Category Archives: General

Friday 17 June ECD Zoom

This Friday we enjoyed the following dances:

Portsmouth / Star of Kintra (Trevor Monson) / The Lovers’ Knot (Jim Kitch) / The Gypsy Round (Eric Leber)

The Recruiting Officer / The Haymarket (June Jones) / Rostillion

Digital Photography Notices

NEW MEMBERS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

If you are experienced in Photography/Photo Enhancement, please come and share your knowledge with us.

If you are new to Photography, we are a friendly group who will always be pleased to help with advice on Camera equipment and how to take better pictures.

Submitting Competition Entries – a reminder

Please ensure that your competition entries are submitted in the correct format – i.e. as JPEG files – and at a resolution of at least 1024 x 768 pixels.  Please also remember to rename the files to include your name and the competition topic, e.g. Joe Bloggs – September Topic 



REOPENING

 The first “live” meeting of our Digital Photography group will take place in Haskayne Village Hall at 2.00pm on  Thursday September 2nd.

The assumption is that all lockdown restrictions have been lifted and all indoor meetings can resume.

The pre covid competition format will resume, and the topics up to the end of the year are listed above.

We will of course keep you informed should any Government announcements be made which  will alter the rules.

 

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU AGAIN

Good News!

It is with great relief that I can tell you that we have secured the services of a really good, experienced tap-dancing teacher and she is available to us on Thursdays at 1.30.

Her name is Jess McGuire and she sounds lovely!

Hopefully, we will be able to resume classes as soon as we are allowed.  At the moment, the hope is that we will be able to commence on Thursday 22nd July.

Dust off your tap shoes!

 

I’ll keep you posted.

June 2021 Competition

T1  In Flight   click for slideshow

 

T2 Horses   click for slideshow

Vasily’s Final Concerts

Vasily Petrenko is no ordinary conductor.’
Financial Times

‘Something very special is happening in Liverpool…Petrenko’s achievement is astonishing’
The Sunday Times

In 2006, Vasily Petrenko arrived in Liverpool for his first concert as Principal Conductor with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

15 years later, Vasily Petrenko, one of the longest-serving conductors in the history of Liverpool Philharmonic, will end his tenure as Chief Conductor with 3 very special concerts at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Friday 9th July & Saturday 10th July are Sold Out – but they have just released another date today – Thursday 8th July. The programme for each will be the same.

Follow the link to 0ur Philharmonic web page for more information about booking and the social distancing arrangements within the hall – or go directly to the Philharmonic Program.

 

Class Amalgamation

Unfortunately, we have had to say goodbye to our two brilliant tap dancing teachers as they move to pastures new.

Until we find a new teacher, we will be amalgamating the two classes, viz Tap Dancing and Tap Dancing – Beginners,  into the Thursday slot @1.30 in the Aughton Village Hall.

We will resume classes as soon as we are able and I will attempt to lead you back into tapping once more.

It looks like Boris will delay our reunion but I will keep you posted.

Meanwhile if anyone knows a tap dancing teacher looking for a class of enthusiastic tappers, please let me know!

7 June 2021 – Giants in British Folklore and Mythology

The meeting considered how giants connect to the natural world and feature in the landscape in British mythology and folklore.   We started by looking at creation myths and then how they featured in folklore.

1/. The Role of Giants in Creation Mythology:-

1.1/. Irish Book of Invasions:-

We started by looking at Irish Celtic creation myths.  In Celtic myths the world has always been there but they do cover the first beings.  There are a number of written sources which have survived.  The book of Invasions is from 11 Century and uses earlier written and oral sources.  In these myths Ireland was invaded by a succession of races from the Otherworld.  Starting with the Race of Partholon, then the Nemedhians, the Fir Bholg, and then the Tuatha de Danaan. They all tamed and cultivated the land and fought the Formorii who were huge, evil deformed beings who lived in the air or under the sea.  It could be argued that the Formorii is the chaos in creation so fighting these giants is something to keep the universe safe.

1.2/. Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “History of the Kings of Britain”, 1136:-

It is assumed the Welsh myths are the same but no written records remain.  However the topic is covered in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “History of the Kings of Britain” which was written around 1136.  He made use of earlier transcripts and oral sources.

In his account the first humans were Trojans.  Britain was first settled by Brutus who was descended from Aeneas, Prince of Troy.  Brutus accidently killed his father and was expelled from Italy.  It had been prophesied that Brutus would settle on an island in the western sea inhabited only by giants.  After a long adventure he landed in Totnes.  Brutus drove out most of the giants who were living there, leaving only a few in Cornwall and divided the land between his followers.

Corineus was Brutus’ right-hand man who liked to fight giants for sport.  Brutus set up a fight with the Cornish giant Gogmagog.  During the fight Gogmagog broke three of Corneus’s ribs.  Corneus became enraged and picked up the giant, took him to the coast and threw him into the sea.  The sea was stained red with the giant’s blood and his body was broken into a thousand pieces.

This can be seen as part of the gods/heroes working against the forces of chaos so the land can be settled.

1.3/.  Germanic & Scandinavian Creation Mythology:-

These myths give a slightly different picture.  The universe has a definite beginning.

In the oldest myths the giants worked alongside the gods to create the universe.  The universe was created by the Sky God working with the giant Nokkvi, the helmsman to the moon as it sails across the sky.

The Sky God gave chariots to the giants Night and Day and sent them into the heavens to drive around the Earth.

Ymir the Giant was the first being, made from the meeting of fire and ice in a void.  He fathered the first of the Frost Giants and produced the first man and woman from the ooze under his left armpit.

Audumla the cow fed Ymir on her milk and licked Buri, the first of the gods, out of the ice.

Bor, the son of Buri, married the Frost Giantess Bestla and fathered the gods Odin, Villi & Ve with her.

Odin, Villi and Ve had no liking for Ymir and eventually attacked and killed him.  His blood drowned all but two of the giants who escaped on a boat on the flow of the blood, these giants constantly looked for revenge.  Ymir’s body made the world, his flesh made the soil, his bones the mountains, his blood the seas and the lakes and so on.

2/. The Role of the Giants in Folklore:-

The folklore mirrors earlier myths, some portray giants as being good and others as being bad.  They were generally big and strong and neutral towards humans, sometimes friendly and destructive by accident.  Figures of fun and the centre of amusing tales.

  • Norway, St Olaf entered into an agreement with a giant to build him a church, with the sun and the moon or St Olaf himself as payment if the giant completed the task according to the agreed terms.  St Olaf found out the name of the giant and called his name out to him which so surprised the giant he fell from the roof of the church and was smashed into pieces.  Knowing the name of something gives power over it.

A number of folklore tales involve giants in building projects and as explanations for things in the landscape.  There are lots of tales on this topic and there are lots of them from Cornwall.

  • In St Levan, Cornwall the Iron Age hill fort Treryn Dinas was built either by a giant who conjured it out of the sea, or by the giant Dan Dfynas and his wife An Venna.
  • At Carn Galva, Zennor, Cornwall a giant set up the famous logan (rocking) stone.  This was a nice giant who liked to build up a pile of rocks and then knock them down.  He fought other giants to protect Zennor.  He only killed a human once and that was by accident when he playfully tapped them on the head with his finger tip.  The giant died within 7 years with a broken heart.
  • In Mounts Bay, Cornwall the giant Cormoran and his wife built a stronghold.
  • Lerrin, Cornwall a linear defensive ditch is called the Giant’s Hedge.
  • St Agnes’ Beacon, Cornwall the Bolster Bank linear earthwork was reputed to be built by a giant called Bolster.
  • Norden Hill & Hanging Hill, Dorset were created as the result of a stone throwing contest between two giants.
  • Colwall, Herefordshire a stone by the crossroads was said to have been thrown there by a giant, however it was well known that it was brought from a quarry.
  • Kinver Edge, Staffordshire the stone known as the Bolt Stone was thrown by a jealous giant who had a beautiful wife and saw another giant kissing his wife and threw a long thin stone at the other giant, which is still there today.
  • At Turton, Lancashire the Hanging Stone was thrown from Winter Hill to Turton by a giant.
  • Wade’s Causeway in Yorkshire is a Roman road which linked four Roman camps.  It is said to have been built by a giant called Wade out of stones brought by his wife Bel in her leather apron.  The apron gave way and heaps of stones were left.

There are a number of reasons for the tales.  In some stories the real reason things were in the landscape was already well known and the tale told for amusement or entertainment.  In some cases the knowledge may have been lost and made up by less educated local people.  Others hold echoes of past mythology.

Next time we shall look at more tales of giant, some not well disposed to humans.

17 May 2021 – Otherworld Folklore Creatures Associated with Water

The session completed the topic looking at Seal People (Selkies), Sea Trows, Water Cattle and Kelpies.

1/.   Seal people’s (Selkies):-

In tales from the West of Ireland and Scotland their normal environment is the sea, they can shed their skin and take on human form.  This happens at dawn and dusk and on special days.

People used to claim they were descended from Selkies who bred with human men whilst in their human form.

One tale was of a young crofter/fisherman who saw a Selkie in the act of turning into a woman, he stole her skin so she could not revert and go back to the sea.  He took her home to be his wife and they lived together and had children.  She always wanted to return to the sea and one day found the skin the young man had left and went back to the sea and was never seen again.

There was another tale of the Selkie Bride from long ago on the coast of Scotland where a beautiful human form Selkie was left behind by her own kind when they were startled by a man.  He kept her skin even though she begged for it as he had fallen in love with her.  She was trapped and had no option but to agree to live with him.  He kept the skin in a crook in the chimney.  They were married and he truly loved her and she grew to love him too and they had 7 children.  She pined for the sea and the children would sometimes see their mother on the beach.  One of the children asked her why and she replied that she was born in the sea and your father has hidden my seal skin.  The child knew where the skin was and moved by his mother’s distress brought the skin to her.  She put the skin on and went into the sea.  The fisherman’s heart broke in two and he realised how wrong he had been.  They missed her for the rest of their lives, they often saw a seal close to the shore and they never went hungry as every time they went fishing, they had a net full of gleaming fish.

2/.  Sea Trows from Shetland:-

These looked like human beings, they were mortal and very beautiful men and women with super natural powers.  They lived in the sea down below any fish.  The only way they could come up was by putting on the skin of an amphibious creature, once on shore they could take the skin off but they could not return if they lost the skin.

Samuel Hibbert in his book ‘A Description of the Shetland Isles’ says these were fallen angels who took refuge in the sea but records show these stories were there before Christianity.

They were fond of the Skerries and would revel in the moonlight protected by the turbulent water around the islands.

There are connections to Celtic Mythology, from the other world, using water as a way to cross over and shape-shifting

3/.  Water Cattle:-

These are stories from the Celtic parts of Britain, Scotland, Wales and Coastal Ireland.  In the Highlands of Scotland and Wales they are fairy cattle whose real homes are under the water and belong to the fairy folk.  They are brown with no horns.  One tale was of a fairy cow which was bred with a normal bull.  When it had come to be of no further use they were about to butcher it when it was called home by a green woman, the cow sped away and took all her offspring with her.

4/.  Horses/Kelpies:-

Kelpies were most often horses but they could also take on human form.  Old men, young men, young women.  They would go courting and could be recognised by the waterweed in their hair.  They haunted fords and rivers especially at night in storms and when the rivers were full.  They were dangerous and malevolent beings.  They delighted in the drowning of men, distress of sailors as a ship went down.

The White Horse of Spey was ready saddled with reins dangling to lure tired travellers to ride it, then would gallop off into the water.

When the Conon River in Ross-shire was in flood it would appear as a woman or as a horse.  The woman was described as being very tall and dressed in green.  Her face was distorted by a malignant scowl.  They would leap out from the water beside travellers and beckon them into the water.  The traveller couldn’t resist and could not be saved.  One tale covers a man being saved from drowning and taken to a church but later found face down in a trough.  It was his fate.

Such was the belief in Kelpies that on one occasion some people were stuck on a sandbank in the Solway Firth and the people on land did not try to save them as they assumed it was kelpies and they could not be saved.

There were lots of these stories, with the majority resulting in mutilation with fingers being chopped off to loosen grip on reins in order to escape or drowning.  On occasion the Kelpie could be outwitted.

These stories were a way of explain natural phenomenon.

 

Next time we shall start a new topic of Giants.

Visit to Yarrow Country Park – 18th May 2021

Eight members of the group attended the first visit that has been possible for more than a year.  Twenty five species were recorded including a very interesting group of Dippers and a number of Grey Wagtails.  We were also able to get close to a juvenile Nuthatch.

Thanks to Peter Gateley for these photographs taken on this visit.

Click ‘Continue reading’ for the full list of species seen:

Continue reading

Spring clean May 2021

Those of us who have opted for ZOOM Solo Country Dancing are still dancing each Friday with June’s excellent guidance. Looking forward to seeing all of you that couldn’t  join us, in June.

I am handing on the Group Author mantle, so look forward to a new slant on Posts from July onwards.

Past Operas 2020

March 18th 2020

Girl from the Golden WestLa Fanciulla del West – Puccini

Puccini’s Wild West opera has the California gold rush as its dramatic backdrop for a story in which Minnie, the only woman in a mining camp, gambles on her one chance of happiness. Lorin Maazel conducts a fine cast in Jonathan Miller’s 1991 production of the compelling and evocative opera, which Puccini himself considered his best work.

This DVD of La fanciulla del West presents Jonathan Miller’s atmospheric production for La Scala, with sets by Stefanos Lazaridis and costumes by Sue Blane. The cast is strong, and Lorin Maazel proves a warmer, more idiomatic Puccinian here than he generally was in his audio recordings for CBS/Sony. His direction makes one marvel afresh at the imagination and colour in this score, distinct from other Puccini operas in its obsession with the whole-tone scale.

Jonathan Miller, Placido Domingo

Synopsis: click here.


February 19th 2020

CosiCosi fan tutte – Mozart 

La Scala; Riccardo Muti

Daniela Dessì and Delores Ziegler lead the cast in Mozart’s brilliant and witty opera, as the two women whose faithfulness in the face of romantic love is ruthlessly tested in Da Ponte’s comic tale.

This is one wonderful production of what many feel is Mozart’s most nearly perfect opera. Riccardo Muti is in the pit and his Scala orchestra play like angels for him. The sets are beautiful (and much more so than the somewhat Pop Art-ish Glyndebourne sets). The backdrops overlook the Bay of Naples and the sky and water are blue, blue, blue. The foregrounds are fairly simple – a few columns, some tables, benches, stairs, drapes. When Ferrando and Guglielmo go off to join their military unit they are picked up by a rather nice three-masted ship that sails in from the wings and then carries them off. Costumes are also traditional, typical 17-century trappings with wigs, period-specific military uniforms for the men, lovely gowns for the women. I was amused that the hat worn by Despina when she appears as the magnetic Doctor in Act I looks like a pilgrim hat, but I guess that’s not really anachronistic, just a little funny-looking to an American viewer.

Synopsis: Click Here


Wednesday January

Lo frate ‘nnamorato –

Pergolesi – La Scala

Rare recording of Pergolesi’s second opera, a comic and colourful tale of tangled love in which three girls resist their arranged marriages in pursuit of the same young man. Rediscovered by conductor Riccardo Muti, this forgotten jewel sparkles in its 1989 period production.

Vacant slots at the S&G HQ

This is a list of vacant slots at the S&G HQ during the period June to September 2021.

If a Group Leader wishes to book a slot, the best way is to email Group Support.

Please note that established lunchtime activities mean that:

Morning sessions in the large hall on Monday, Tuesday and Friday must finish by 11:45.
Morning sessions in the small hall on Thursday must finish by 11:45.

Dated 18 June 2021:

JULY
  19th Monday Morning small hall Guitars
  20th Tuesday Morning large hall Creative Writing
20th Tuesday Afternoon large hall Table Tennis
  20th Tuesday Afternoon small hall vacant
  21st Wednesday Morning small hall vacant
  21st Wednesday Afternoon large hall vacant
  22nd Thursday Morning large hall vacant
  22nd Thursday Morning small hall vacant
  23rd Friday Afternoon large hall vacant
  26th Monday Morning large hall vacant
  26th Monday Morning small hall Guitars
  26th Monday Afternoon large hall HEOG
  27th Tuesday Morning large hall vacant
  27th Tuesday Afternoon large hall Table Tennis
  28th Wednesday Morning small hall Vacant
  29th Thursday Morning large hall vacant
  29th Thursday Morning small hall vacant
  29th Thursday Afternoon small hall vacant
  30th Friday Afternoon large hall vacant
           
AUGUST
  2nd Monday Morning small hall Guitars
2nd Monday Afternoon small hall vacant
3rd Tuesday Morning large hall vacant
  3rd Tuesday Afternoon large hall Table Tennis
  3rd Tuesday Afternoon small hall vacant
  4th Wednesday Morning small hall vacant
  4th Wednesday Afternoon large hall vacant
  5th Thursday Morning large hall vacant
  5th Thursday Morning small hall vacant
  6th Friday Afternoon large hall vacant
  9th Monday Morning small hall Guitars
  9th Monday Afternoon small hall vacant
  10th Tuesday Morning large hall vacant
  11th Wednesday Morning small hall vacant
  12th Thursday Morning large hall vacant
  12th Thursday Morning small hall vacant
  13th Friday Afternoon large hall vacant
  16th Monday Morning small hall Guitars
  17th Tuesday Morning large hall Creative Writing
17th Tuesday Afternoon large hall Table Tennis
  17th Tuesday Afternoon small hall vacant
  18th Wednesday Morning small hall vacant
  18th Wednesday Afternoon large hall vacant
  19th Thursday Morning large hall vacant
  19th Thursday Morning small hall vacant
  20th Friday Afternoon large hall vacant
  23rd Monday Morning large hall vacant
  23rd Monday Morning small hall Guitars
  23rd Monday Afternoon large hall vacant
  24th Tuesday Morning large hall vacant
  24th Tuesday Afternoon large hall Table Tennis
  25th Wednesday Morning small hall vacant
  26th Thursday Morning large hall vacant
  26th Thursday Morning small hall vacant
  27th Friday Afternoon large hall vacant
  30th Monday Morning small hall Guitars
  30th Monday Morning large hall vacant
  30th Monday Afternoon small hall vacant
  31st Tuesday Morning large hall vacant
  31st Tuesday Morning small hall vacant
  31st Tuesday Afternoon large hall Church History
  31st Tuesday Afternoon small hall vacant
           
SEPTEMBER [No bookings being taken until August]
  1st Wednesday Morning small hall vacant
  7th Tuesday Afternoon large hall Table Tennis
  8th Wednesday Morning small hall vacant
  27th Monday Morning small hall vacant
  28th Tuesday Afternoon large hall Table Tennis
  29th Wednesday Afternoon large hall vacant
  30th Thursday Afternoon small hall vacant
           
OCTOBER [No bookings being taken until August]
  29th Friday Afternoon large hall vacant

Derrick Fewings

New Horizons

New start, new venue, new opportunities

Where and when?

Aughton Village Hall, Winifred Lane, Aughton L39 5DH. Every Thursday morning starting on 22 July 2021, 9.30 – 11.45 am.

Why the change of venue?

The Scout & Guide HQ in Long Lane has served us well for many years. However, recently parking has become increasingly difficult and the building itself has at times become very overcrowded. After lengthy research and discussion, your Management Committee has taken the decision to change the venue to Aughton Village Hall, which has excellent, spacious facilities including an outside area, and adequate parking.

What goes on?

New Horizons is a weekly opportunity for members to meet informally for coffee and a chat. Group Leaders can pay in money or request that payments be made, and tickets for events can be purchased. It’s also our main recruitment opportunity when new members can be introduced to our u3a.

Will there be any Covid precautions in place?

The government’s ‘roadmap’ indicates that nationally all restrictions will be lifted on 21st June. Accordingly, you will not be required to wear a mask at New Horizons or to maintain social distancing. However, tea and coffee will be served in disposable cups for the first week or two, and biscuits will be wrapped. Everyone must take responsibility for their own safety and well-being.

Anything else I need to know?

In order to keep our u3a on a firm financial footing, New Horizons needs to cover its costs. We will therefore be introducing a 50p per person charge, payable as you come in, to cover the cost of hiring the hall and refreshments.

What about other u3a activities?

A Restart Working Party has been formed to address the planning and preparation for restart of u3a activities. A newsletter in mid-June will give details. The process requires a regular exchange of information between the Group Leaders and the Restart Working Party, and to this end Group Leader bulletins have been introduced which are initially emailed to Group Leaders then posted on the website, to keep the wider membership informed. Click here to see the published bulletins.

If you have any questions, please contact Pam Ball or Sue Watkinson.

19 April 2021- Otherworld Folklore Creatures Associated with Water

The session looked at mermaids and church bells and then other creatures.

1/.  Legends Concerning Mermaids & Church Bells:-

Examples

  • Llyn Cerig Bach, Anglesey:- around 140 Iron Age metal objects discovered in the lake in 1943
  • Llyn Fawr, Rhondda Valley:- Bronze & Iron Age metal objects found in the lake in 1911.
  • Bosham, Sussex:- church bell said to have been looted by the Vikings and then lost in the harbour.

These legends were common and may have had their origins in the old folklore of water spirits, goddesses.  They hark back to pagan beliefs and old religions.  The legends concerning church bells obviously come about with Christianity and are perhaps related to the struggles to get Christianity accepted.  Metal is linked to the old beliefs and church bells may be dim memories of offerings in the past.  Several the stories pick up on the theme of virtue and sin.  Although it is set within a Christian context a number of the stories involve wise men and pagan like rituals which must be strictly adhered to or they will fail.

2/. Sea-Living Mermaids:-

There are a lot of these stories.  They probably started as water spirits and had the mermaid label attached later, with Celtic mythology roots.  Water being the portal between this world and the other world.  They often had long blonde hair.  The sea living mermaids had a range of supernatural powers, some could shape change shift, if they married a human they became a human.  If the mermaid was treated well you would have good luck, if treated badly you would be cursed.  Human husbands would live with them for all eternity.  Some mermaids lived in the sea and also had farms on land.

We looked at a number of examples

  • Orkney Fin Folk:- human form but covered in scales instead of skin.
  • Lizzard Point, Cornwall:- in return for his kindness to her, a mermaid taught an old man from Cury the art of charming. She also offered to make him young again if he would go with her, but he declined.
  • Conwy, North Wales:- the town was cursed by a mermaid after the townspeople refused to help her.
  • Padstow, Cornwall:- a sandbank that blocked the harbour was the result of a mermaid’s curse.
  • Isle of Man:- the thick mists that often descended on the island where the result of a mermaid’s curse.
  • The Black Rock, Mersey Estuary:- a mermaid lured sailors to their doom.
  • Mermaid’s Rock, Lamorna, Cornwall:- a mermaid lured fishermen to their doom.
  • Zennor, Cornwall:- a mermaid lured a local man away to be her husband.

3/. Water Fairies:-

Some mermaids were called water fairies and there is a blurred line in their definition.  The water fairies also have their origins in water spirits, Celtic mythology and appear a lot in Welsh folklore.  These would have towns on the beds of lakes, involve magic, time passing at a different rate, aversion to iron.

We looked in detail at

The Fairies of the Mountain Lake:-

“The people who lived near to Beddgelert in Snowdonia used to watch the Fairies dancing in the moonlight on the shores of a certain mountain lake. One night a young man fell in love with one of the Fairy women and he took her off and locked her in his house. She agreed to act as his servant, and then she married him. They had two children and lived together happily for some years. Then one day, when she was helping her husband to catch a horse, an iron bit struck her on the shoulder, iron being anathema to all Fairy Folk, and in an instant she vanished. However, on the Fairies’ mountain lake there was a floating island that was blown about by the wind, and from time to time, the Fairy wife would appear in this island and she would talk to her husband while he stood on the shore.”  Janet & Colin Bord, “Atlas of Magical Britain”, 1990.

and at

The Lake Island in Llyn Cwm Llwych:-

“At the foot of Corn Du in the Brecon Beacons is the tiny lake of Llyn Cwm Llwych which is reputed to be bottomless. In ancient times, it was believed that there was a door in a rock which gave access to an island in the centre of the lake, which was invisible to those who stood on the shore. People who went to the island were hospitably received by the Fairies who lived there, but one day the Fairies were angry with a guest who took away a flower. They closed the door and for hundreds of years it could not be found.

One day some local people decided to drain the lake to see if the Fairies had left any treasure behind. They dug a deep trench and just when they had got to the point where another blow with the pick would have broken the bank and let out the water, there was a flash of lighting and a peal of thunder. From the lake rose a gigantic man, who warned them that if they disturbed his peace he would drown the valley of the River Usk, starting with Brecon town.”

and

The Poet Southey on the Subject of the Fairies’ Enchanted Island:-

“Of these islands or green spots of the floods, there are some singular superstitions. They are the abode of the Tylwth Teg, or the Fair Family….They love to visit the earth, and seizing a man enquire whether he will travel above wind, mid-wind, or below wind: above wind is a giddy and terrible passage, below wind is through brush and brake, the middle is a safe course…In their better moods they come and carry the Welsh in their boats. He who visits these islands imagines on his return that he has been absent only for a few hours, when in truth whole centuries have passed away.  If you take turf from St David’s churchyard and stand upon it on the sea shore, you behold these islands. A man once who thus obtained sight of them immediately put to sea to find them, but his search was in vain. He returned, looked at them again from the enchanted turf, again set sail and failed again. The third time he took the turf into his vessel and stood upon it until he reached them.”  Chris Barber, “Mysterious Wales”, 2000.

and

Wirt Sykes, “Goblins”, 1880:-

“Sailors on the coasts of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire still talk of green meadows of enchantment which are visible sometimes to the eyes of mortals, but only for a brief space of time. In former years, some sailors went ashore on the Fairy islands, not knowing they were such, until they returned to their boats and were filled with awe at seeing the islands disappear from their sight, neither sinking into the sea, nor floating away upon the waters but simply vanishing.”  Chris Barber, “Mysterious Wales, 2000.

 

Next time we shall continue with Seal People (Selkies) could shed their seal skins and assume human form, and Water Cattle/Kelpies

 

Message From Your Retiring Science Group Management Team

We wrote to all Science Group members towards the end of March to advise that the existing Science Group leaders would be retiring and the group would need new leaders to continue. Thank you to all who replied, many with very complimentary messages, for which we are truly grateful. We ourselves have greatly enjoyed our 12-year tenure in charge and hope we have brought both pleasure and mental stimulation to all who attended the talks, visits, short courses, quizzes, competitions and experiments.

We also thank everyone for their attendance over the years – that is the reason we kept going for so long, and it was always rewarding to see so many turn up.  The average 60 attendees for the last 20 meetings prior to Covid-19 shows remarkable determination to keep up an interest in science whatever the weather, and whatever the topic. Members questions helped enliven the sessions and kept the speakers on their toes; indeed, the speakers always left with a very positive impression of our u3a.

Special thanks are due to all those who have played an active part in the monthly meetings, whether in organising and serving refreshments, putting chairs and tables out and tidying them away again, making sure everyone signed the register, or made sense of the microphone system!  And we can never forget the many members who planned, researched, rehearsed and delivered such a wide spectrum of talks, whether full length single topic ones, or sharing a platform on “my favourite element” sessions. Without all these contributions, we couldn’t have done it, and our members wouldn’t have enjoyed it!  So thanks to all once again.

A new team, comprising Bill Hale, Bill Soens, Peter Gateley and Colin Redwood, has volunteered to lead the group, on an interim basis, from September until Christmas. We wish them every success, and hope that Science Group members will give them their full support.  Indeed, they will no doubt appreciate any offers of help which can be given in this venture.

With very best wishes to you all – stay safe, get your vaccinations and believe in science!

From Jack Brettle, Patsy Colvin, Marguerita McBride, Alan Nolan

Science during Lockdown

We didn’t let Coronavirus shut us down completely!

Though we weren’t able to have visiting speakers or arrange visits, we continued to tease you with some armchair science:

  • links to interesting science articles or lectures
  • science quizzes
  • science question and answer system
  • online science discussion

To see what we mean, head over to the “Science during Lockdown” page.

Jack Brettle, Alan Nolan

Social Events

Whilst our u3a provides many opportunities for learning, we also have a vibrant social dimension to our activities. These bring together people from across a wide range of special interests,  in a convivial atmosphere, simply to enjoy themselves. These excellent events are organised by the Social Subcommittee. In normal times, there is usually a member of this subcommittee at the weekly  Horizons meetings from whom you can get more details on their events and book places or buy tickets.

In 2020, regrettably, the planned events were cancelled due to social isolation rules. Let’s keep hoping happier social times are ahead!


Events Planned for 2021

  • Vegan Lunch Watch this space!
  • Christmas Lunch – 10 December. 

2019 Highlights

The Annual u3a CHRISTMAS LUNCH

(in December at Christ Church Ministry Centre)

Although the weather was quite awful outside, those at the Christmas Lunch didn’t really notice – they were generally just too busy enjoying themselves!

Click or tap on any photo in the gallery to run it as a full-size presentation.

Photos courtesy of Alan Nolan

 


In June:  Our ‘Antiques Road Show’ was a great success!

It was a full house at Aughton VH in late June for our ‘Antiques Road Show’ style social evening. After a delicious hot buffet supper, local auctioneer/valuer, Mike Litherland, then went through the antiques & curios that members had kindly offered to bring along for display & valuation. It was a most entertaining & interesting evening.

Mike rounded matters off by presenting some of his own items, including a pair of samurai horse spurs and that Victorian kitchen essential – a ‘serving spoon warmer’!

Click or tap on any photo in the gallery to run it as a full-size slideshow presentation.

Photos courtesy of Peter Gateley


In August:  Our ‘Song & Dance Social’ – a great evening!

Following a splendid hotpot supper, we had a great evening’s entertainment provided by local excellent guitarist/singer KEN WATERS. He played lots of our favourite songs, to both listen to & join in singing with, plus plenty of dancing too. A particular thank you to Diane & Jim Higgins for their marvellous CHA-CHA-CHA to ‘Under the Boardwalk’ – very much enjoyed by the audience!

Photos courtesy of Alan Nolan


2018 Highlights

Anniversary Celebration – 19 May, organised by the Anniversary Working Party

Summer Social 2018 – 31 August, organised by the Social Subcommittee

15th Birthday Celebration & Groups Showcase – 13 October, organised by the Anniversary Working Party

Christmas Lunch – 14 December, organised by the Social Subcommittee

Click or tap on any image below to run a slideshow.

Group Leader Bulletins

Group Leader Bulletins – Restart of Activities

A Restart Working Party has been formed to address the planning and preparation for restart of u3a activities.

The process requires a regular exchange of information between the Group Leaders and the Restart Working Party, and to this end:
  • Group Leader Bulletins have been introduced
  • these bulletins are initially emailed to Group Leaders
  • a copy is then put here, to keep the wider membership informed.

Derrick Fewings

29 March 2021- Supernatural and Other World Beings

The session started looking at a selection of creatures associated with the natural world covering mermaids, water spirits, seal people, kelpies, all with watery connections.

Mermaids in Inland Water:-

By late C12th in western art the mermaid had acquired all her familiar features.  In western Christian imagery she was a symbol of lust & desire.

In British folklore, mermaids were associated with water, love, marriage, procreation , danger and also wisdom.

Examples looked at in the session were:-

Atargatis:- venerated in ancient Near East; associated with the River Euphrates; personified the light & aspects of love; by C2nd AD depicted as half woman/ half fish.

Aphrodite:- Greek goddess of love (Roman Venus); born from the foam of the sea: in Roman times depicted as rising from the sea holding a looking glass.

Sirens:- in Greek mythology lured sailors onto the rocks with their beguiling song; depicted as half woman/ half bird.

Child Ercall, Shropshire:- a mermaid guarded treasure at the bottom of her pool.

Rostherne Mere, Knutsford, Cheshire:- a mermaid swam from the River Mersey to the mere every Easter Sunday (by way of an underground channel) and rang a bell at the bottom of the mere.

Marden, Herefordshire:- a mermaid appropriated a church bell that fell into her river.

Black Mere, Staffordshire:- a mermaid lured unwary travellers to their deaths.

East Anglia:- mermaids haunted the fens and inland pools.

River Kinder, Derbyshire:- a mermaid with the gift of immortality appeared in a pool at dawn on Easter Day.

Loch Benachally, Tayside:- the Laird of Lornty escaped a mermaid in the loch.

Girvan Water, Strathclyde:- a mermaid cursed the Lord and Lady of Knockdolian.

Dalbeattie Burn, Galloway:- a mermaid took revenge on a Christian woman.

Monmouthshire:- Nicky Nicky Nye dragged unwary children into rivers.

Fordham, Cambridgeshire:- a mermaid dragged unwary children into her pond.

Rendlesham, Suffolk:- a mermaid dragged unwary children into her pond.

Lancashire, Cheshire, Shropshire:- Jenny Greenteeth dragged unwary children into weed-filled rivers, ponds, lakes.

Piercebridge, County Durham:- Peg Powler lurked in the River Tees.

Frig/Nerthus:- Germanic/Scandinavian Earth Mother.

Rivers Tweed, Dart, Till, Derwent, Ribble:- “demanded” a certain number of lives each year.

There was a discussion on the possible origins of Mermaids in Inland water sources

  • They could have been the goddesses or water spirits who guarded the pools and rivers in the pagan past when these sites were regarded as sacred places. Possibly the legends and tales may contain some dim “folk memories” of the rituals once performed at these sites.
  • On a more mundane level, the mermaid legends would also serve as warnings, to keep adults and children away from dangerous water.

We will have more to say about the mermaids and church bells in our next session (19th April).

 

 

15 February, 1 March and 15 March 2021 – Fairy Folk

The sessions continued and completed the subject of the Fairy Folk/Good People:

For ease of discussion we grouped the tales into 4 categories:-

  • 1/. Stories where they benefit from human kindness and offer a reward.
  • 2/. React to unkindness and disrespect.
  • 3/. Changelings, fairy left in place of a human baby
  • 4/. Adult humans wander into their Fairy Land or are abducted there.

1/.  In the previous session we looked at a number of tales about the first group of The Good People.  There are lots of stories about these and often involved farmers and their wives and their help would be rewarded with little loaves, pats of butter or cheeses.  These stories occurred all over Britain and continental Europe.

2/.  This second group had a less benign flavour to them.  Great care had to be taken to show respect or there could be dire consequences.  Giving way to greed, arrogance and abusing hospitality were often fatal.  They may have been used as morality tales, and perhaps in later versions reflected Christian mores.  They attribute supernatural causes onto natural events, for things at the time there was no obvious explanation such as wasting diseases.

The Midwife at Garth Dorwen

We looked in detail at the story of The Midwife at Garth Dorwen.  Human midwives were often summoned to fairy births to help fairy mothers or assist human women who had been abducted.

An old man and his wife who lived at Garth Dorwen, near Llandwrog went to Caernarfon to hire a servant at the Fair. They hired a girl with yellow hair who was standing a little apart for the others.

The girl, Eilian, would go out into the meadow to spin by the light of the moon.  Here the Tylwyth Teg (the good people) used to come to her and sing and dance. One day in Spring, she ran off with the Tylwyth Teg and no more was heard of her.

The old woman at Garth Dorwen helped women in childbed, and some time after this, a gentleman on horseback came to the door one night when the moon was full, to fetch her to his lady. The old woman rode pillion behind him and they came to Rhos-y-Cowrt. In the centre of the rhos (moor) was an old fortification. Here they entered a large cave and came to a room- and it was the finest place the old woman had seen in her life- where the wife lay in bed.

When the baby was born, the husband gave her ointment to anoint its eyes, warning her not to get it into her own, but one of her eyes happening to itch, she rubbed it with the finger she had used to anoint the baby’s eyes.  At once she saw with that that the fine chamber was a cave, the bed a ring of stones lined with rushes and withered bracken, and the gentleman’s wife none other than her servant girl Eilian; yet with the other eye, she still saw the grandest place that ever she had seen.

Not long afterwards, the old woman went to Caernarfon market and there she saw the husband. “How is Eilian?”, she asked. “She is pretty well, thank you”, he said, “but which eye do you see me with?”. “Well this one”, said she. At once he took a bullrush stem and poked it out.

In this tale Eilian has unusually coloured hair which would make her attractive to the good people.  They were thought to need human blood lines to strengthen theirs.  The spinning, moonlight, full moon, caves, old forts, travelling at night are common themes.  Grand fairy abodes were often revealed to be very modest.  Again there was a great consequence for disobeying, a warning not to cause even accidental offence.

Tom Monahan and the Hurley

We also looked in detail at the tale of “Tom Monahan and the Hurley”, as recorded in Galway in 1945.

Tom Monahan from Doonlaun was one of the finest players of hurling in the district. One bright moonlight night, he was on his way home, and as he passed a field that sloped down from a wood, he was surprised to see two teams of men playing hurling in the moonlight, and as he watched the game, he realised that they must be the Good People. They played wonderfully well and after a time, Tom became so excited that he let out a yell, which alerted the Good People to his presence.

“Would you like to join in?”, they asked. “Indeed I would”, said Tom, and “Have you a hurley?” They handed Tom the finest hurley he had ever seen, and he played as he never had before, and his team won.

“I’ll tell you who we are, now”, said the Good People. “We are from the churchyard beyond, and we are in a great fix, for we have to play our old rivals from Knockmar on this night week, and they have a mortal, the red-headed Paddy Ruadh, to play for them, and he is the best hurler in County Mayo. Will you play for us, to even things up?’ “Indeed I will”, said Tom, ‘but can I have the same hurley?” And it was agreed.

So a week from that night, Tom crept out, telling no-one where he was going, and he found the two teams and his hurley waiting for him. They played and played, and in the end, Tom’s team won. “What would you like now?” said the Good People, “and we’ll give it to you.” “I’d like the hurley that I played so well with”, was the reply. “You’ve asked for the one thing we can’t do. Tis fairy property and we couldn’t give it away.” “Well I want it”, said Tom. “Well you can’t have it”, said the Good People. “Well I must”, said Tom, and with that he walked away, taking the hurley will him.

Well Tom was hardly home before he began to sicken. His mother could do nothing for him, and the doctor could do nothing for him, and all the time, he grew worse and worse. And when he knew that he was going to die, Tom asked them to bury the hurley with him in his coffin. Sure they did it, so maybe he’s still winning matches for Doonlaun now.”

The common themes let us know early in the tale that the good people are involved, moonlight, reference to red hair, the finest hurley, from a church yard, and with this Christian morality.  He paid a high price for breaking the rules of hospitality.

3/.  The third group, Changelings, have a very dark tone to them, especially in the early stories.  The origins of these may have come from disabled babies, sudden illness, congenital disorders and defects, and infanticide.  The changelings survive for a while.  In the later stories, the human parents sometimes get the children back and the fairies don’t abandon their own.

There was a view that changelings were taken to strengthen the fairy stock.  Boys with fair hair and rosy cheeks were prized, they were taken, treated well and in due course took a fairy bride.  Something would be left behind in their place such as a magic block of wood or one of their own.

A changeling could be recognised as they were ugly and wizened, unnaturally knowing, becoming weak, grizzling, moping, and failing to thrive.

Precautions could be taken to protect a child from being taken.  Iron and steel were well known to be repugnant to fairy folk, salt, rowan twigs, crucifix and rosary beads were protective.  These are a mix of pagan and Christian beliefs co-opted into the stories later.  In rural Ireland boys were dressed as girls to protect them from coming to the notice of the fairies until they were old enough to be safe.

These tales were from all over the country with examples from Ipstones, Staffordshire, Fermanagh, Ireland, Kington, Powys, Scotland and Llyn Ebyr, Wales.  The people recounting the tale were often well-regarded members of the community and therefore viewed as reliable.  A way to get the changeling to show itself was to act in an unexpected way, in the tale from Llyn Ebyr eggshell stew was served to the workers.

4/.  The fourth group are those where adult humans wander into the fairy realm or are abducted.  There were numerous examples of these.

These had echoes of the Celtic other world.  Involved journeys near water, at night, at length, through caves, underground, through gaps in rocks, through a door, getting lost.  You were safe if you did not eat or drink.  The passage of time was different.  Behaving oddly or bringing something from this world could be used to escape or rescue a person.  Some tales left the protagonists caught between worlds where they could be heard from time to time outside cave entrances, in the wind etc..

The other world could be recognised because it was beautiful, vibrant and splendid.  In Irish culture it was often the land of youth and health.  It was often shown to be enchantment and not real.

The Fairy Dwelling on Selena Moor

We looked at this tale in detail, it has many of these elements.

A Farmer called Noy once took a short cut on Selena Moor in Cornwall and he became lost.  After wandering for many miles over country that he could not recognise, he came upon a house, outside which hundreds of people were either dancing, or sitting drinking at tables. They were all richly dressed, but they looked to the farmer to be very small, and the tables and cups were small as well.

The farmer was astounded when he recognised a young woman who was serving drinks. She was his former sweetheart Grace, and as far as everyone was concerned, she had died three or four years before.  Grace beckoned him aside, into the orchard that surrounded the house, and told him that she had also become lost on the moor, while searching for a lost sheep.  What her friends found on the moor, what they thought was her body, was in fact a changeling, a stock, put there by the Fairies.  In fact she had wandered around for hours until she came to an orchard where she could hear music playing.  Although the music sounded near at hand, she could not get out of the orchard to find it.

At last, worn out with hunger and thirst, she plucked a golden plum from one of the trees and began to eat it.  At once the fruit dissolved into bitter water in her mouth and she fell into a faint. When she revived, she found herself surrounded by a crowd of little people, who were very pleased to have acquired such a likely looking girl to bake and brew for them, and to look after their human babies.

Farmer Noy asked her about the little people, and she told him that their lives seemed unnatural and sham:- “They have little sense or feeling; what serves them in a way as such, is merely the remembrance of whatever pleased them when they lived as mortals, maybe thousands of years ago.”

 Farmer Noy asked if Fairy babies were ever born, and Grace replied just occasionally, and then there was great rejoicing.  Every little Fairy man, however old and wizened, was proud to be thought its father:- “For you must remember that they are not of our religion, but star-worshippers (pagans). They do not always live together like Christians and turtle doves; considering their long existence, such constancy would be tiresome for them.”

When Grace was called back to her work, she warned the farmer not to touch any fruit or flower in the orchard “for your very life”.

Farmer Noy thought that he might find a way to rescue them both; so he took his hedging gloves out of his pocket, turned them inside out and threw them in among the Fairies. Immediately everything vanished, including his lady-love, and he found himself standing alone beside a ruined cottage on the moor.

He was found some time later, dazed and bewildered, by the friends who had come out search for him. When he recovered his senses, he was much surprised to discover that he had been missing for three days.

 

Origins of the Fairy Folk in British Folklore:-

At the end of the topic we looked at the possible origins of the Fairy Folk.  These tales stand out as being a distinctly different set of stories and there are a great many legends concerning them.

(i) they may have been used to illustrate examples of proper behaviour in stories designed to have a teaching function for children and adults.  With Christian morals co-opted into them in later versions.

(ii) they may have been the existing inhabitants of Britain displaced when either the Bronze Age people or the Iron Age Celts arrived and they were pushed to the margins.  The fairies didn’t like iron and the Celts had iron weapons.  However, it is now thought that these peoples were blended together.  There may be echoes of human origins in the long distant past.

(iii) they may have been linked to a cult of the dead, cult of the ancestors.  Glastonbury Tor, Somerset:- St Collen met Gwyn ap Nudd (King of the Fairies, Lord of Annwyn) in his palace inside the Tor.  Fairy Folk and the realm of the dead.

(iv) they may represent a survival of Celtic mythology: originally they may have been Celtic gods & goddesses.   Aine:- wife of the Celtic sea god Manannan Mac Lir; wife of the sky horse Echdae; strong associations with the Earth Mother/ Great Goddess; in Munster venerated at Cnoc Aine as goddess of the dawn and also as Queen of the Fairies.

 

Next time we shall continue with supernatural in the natural world and landscape including the sea and mermaids.

Lockdown Projects – Various

Lockdown Projects – Christmas Items

Lockdown Project – Easter and Items for other Religious Occasions

Lockdown Project – NHS Support

Members’ Stories

We are very fortunate, this year, to be treated to a series of tales written by members following an initiative from Sue Watkinson, Trustee and  member of Communications Subcommittee. Here are the initial examples, already published in one of the monthly enews of 2021.

Many thanks to Sue for having this idea in the first place and then promoting it.  And, of course, the efforts of the authors are applauded and much appreciated.

If you have a suitable tale to tell ie one in which you have some direct or indirect involvement and you would like to share it with us, please contact  webteam@aughon-ormskirk-u3a.co.uk.

Albert – Short story

UNCLE ALBERT

29th January 1945, Nottinghamshire

In the dark night sky above the village of Hoveringham a Lancaster bomber circled, its engine spluttering. It was a training flight, and on board was a crew of 7 British and Canadian airmen, including the Flight Engineer, Albert Mercer, aged 23. As horrified villagers watched, the aircraft burst into flames and exploded, scattering pieces of burning fuselage across the surrounding fields. None of the crew survived.

30th January 1945, Southport

Olive made her way home from the station in the cold, blackout darkness of the January night. She was happy and excited, thinking about the handsome young man she had met on the train to Liverpool a few weeks earlier. As she turned into Chester Road and walked towards the house, she became aware that something wasn’t right, and as she turned her key in the lock she realised that there were no lights on, no smell of cooking, no voices to be heard. Heart thumping, she made her way into the living room to find Mum, Dad and 14 year old brother Billy, huddled round the fire. Billy turned, tears streaming down his cheeks: ‘Albert’s crashed’.

Hoveringham, 60 years later

Janice had almost given up hope of finding anyone in the village who remembered the crash. She had always known about Albert, her mother’s older brother, who had been killed in an air crash during the war, but no details had ever come to light. Why did the plane crash? Was he killed instantly? Had there been an investigation? The last door she knocked on was opened by an elderly gentleman. ‘Oh yes, I was only a child at the time but I remember it well …’

Hoveringham, 2009

Walking across the fields adjacent to her home with her brother David, a former RAF pilot, Helen was anxious to try out the metal detector she had been given for Christmas. Within minutes they discovered several pieces of jagged metal, which David identified as aeroplane fuselage. Intrigued, they made enquiries locally, and found eye witnesses, children at the time, who had seen that fatal crash in January 1945. One gentleman also mentioned a lady who had knocked on his door some years earlier, and who had left a name and phone number.


Olive was my Mum, Janice my sister and Albert my uncle, although I never met him as he died 5 years before I was born. He loved music, motor bikes and horses and by all accounts was the life and soul of any party. Growing up, we knew that Albert had died in a plane crash during the war, and we had visited his grave in Southport’s Duke St Cemetery. The events described above might have been the end of the story, but Helen discovered that there was not just one crash, but two, within weeks of each other in January 1945, in which 14 young men from Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand had perished. Over the next 12 months she managed to make contact with the families of all but one of them, and in May 2010 we were all invited to the dedication of 2 memorial stones, erected on the land where the aircraft crashed. Helen also wrote a book: ‘The Courage of the Small Hours’, describing each individual airman, the wartime background and the role played by Bomber Command during the war. Finally, the huge and tragic sacrifice made by those young men so long ago had been recognised.

Uncle Albert would have been 100 in August 2021.


Helen later wrote:

The Lancasters were based at RAF Syerston and both crews were on their final training flights. The aircraft crashed for different reasons, but reading the accident reports, it would be fair to assume structural or engine failure played a part as crews in training were given ‘beaten up’ old aircraft to learn in, which had been retired from active service. They frequently suffered structural disasters.

Of the 125,000 young men who served as aircrew in Bomber Command, nearly half were killed (55,573). Of that number, roughly 8,500 died in training accidents. There were 15 aircraft crashes in the local area around Hoveringham during the war, mostly heavy bombers, and around 100 young airmen died in the skies above and in the fields around us in this quiet corner of Nottinghamshire.

Pamela
February 2021

A Mystery Monolith

Mystery monolith in sand dunes near Hightown!

The photo is of our son, Michael Ingman, next to the monolith that appeared mid January in Hightown Dunes.

The first monolith was discovered in the Utah Desert mid November 2020 after being seen by a pilot from a small plane. It then disappeared with no trace after a few weeks. Since then over 170 similar monoliths have been viewed around the globe and within days of being discovered have vanished like the first one.

The mystery of why and how these monoliths came to appear for short periods around our Planet has given vent to various ideas. It has been likened to an alien life form as imagined in the 1968 film of “A Space Odyssey.” The appearances and disappearances have both added in equal forms in the attempt to discover a realistic explanation.

In the meantime different artists have come forward to claim credit and the term “Land Art” has been used to describe these metal monoliths. How appropriate, though, for one to appear in such close proximity to Anthony Gormley’s, ‘Another Place’ within a mile further down the coast.

There is, I believe, sadly no mystery over this one’s disappearance within a week, as by all accounts Sefton Council have it in storage, to prevent visitors damaging more of the dune area where conservation projects are ongoing.

As yet though, my understanding is that no-one seems to have claimed this monolith! So could there still be a mystery to be discovered?

Judy Ingman February 2021.

Request from Edge Hill University for Help with Research Project

We have been contacted by researchers in the psychology department at Edge Hill University requesting help with a project to examine the influence of cognitive and social factors on memory for events.  They are currently recruiting older adults for this study.  More details are given below:

  • Participants should be fluent in English and aged between 65-80 years old
  • The first part of the study will be administered online and will look at how a person’s age and level of contact with other age-groups may affect memory of events.
  • Participants will be asked to view short film clips and complete some questionnaires. This should take approximately 40 minutes to complete.
  • For the second part of the study participants will be asked to complete a short routine memory questionnaire over the telephone.
  • Participants will receive a £5 Amazon voucher for their time following completion of participation.
  • The study is being conducted by researchers from Edge Hill University (Dr. Joyce Humphries) and the Open University (Dr Catriona Havard) and has been funded by the British Academy.

This project is being organised by Dr. Emily Breeze from Edge Hill and if you are interested in taking part please contact her directly by email at breesee@edgehill.ac.uk to receive more information and a link to access the online part of the study.

The Census is coming! 

As everyone knows, the Census comes once every 10 years.

And this year, it’s on 21st March.

If you have questions such as Why do I have to complete the census? What information do they want? or Is it used for more than just family history research? you can get the answers from Lauren Mullen, the Census Engagement Manager for West Lancashire, who has offered to talk to us via Zoom.

If you wish to join this Zoom session, please email webteam@aughton-ormskirk-u3a.co.uk and we will send you an invitation to a Zoom meeting now arranged to take place at 10:30 am on Wednesday 17 March.

See also Lauren’s email about the Census.

Census 2021 support

Aughton & Ormskirk u3a has received a helpful offer from Sarah of the Campaigns Team, Citizens Advice Lancashire West:

Hi,

As I’m sure you’re aware, this year the Census 2021 Questionnaire is being completed online.

There are many members of our local communities who will not be able to do this and who will need help from others to submit their return. I know that one of the strengths of all U3A groups is the willingness to help each other and in particular with technology.

Working in partnership with the Office of National Statistics and the Good Things Foundation, we are offering assistance to those who will struggle to complete the form online and who may not be able to access your support.

–  Our support service has trained and checked Census Advisers who can help people to complete their online questionnaire.

–  Once a resident has received their Census Letter, they can call us on 01772 595 463 to book an appointment.

–  This support is available from now, until 4th May 2021

–  We have registered centres in West Lancs, Chorley and Wyre

–  Currently, due to Lockdown restrictions, all appointments are by telephone. Once the restrictions have been lifted and we have permission from the ONS, we’ll be offering face-to-face appointments in our centres as well.

–  Our Booking line phone number is 01772 595 463 – please feel free to share

We would be grateful if you would highlight this service with your group members or those you have contact with who are likely to need support in completing their Census 2021 return online.

Please note – Residents are still able to complete their return using paper format. To obtain a paper copy, they should contact the ONS Census support line 0800 141 2021 and ask for a copy to be sent to them.

If you’re a social media user, we’d also be grateful if you could spread the word by ‘liking’ or sharing any Census posts on our Facebook @citizensadvicebureauchorley and Twitter @ChorleyCAB

Should they be useful we have a number of leaflets which we are happy to share, though all are available from https://census.gov.uk/downloadable-resources

If you’d like copies of the resources we are using, please do get in touch.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries.

Sarah

The Campaigns Team
Citizens Advice Lancashire West

Diana’s Funeral

Diana’s Funeral by Margaret Kitchen

Journalists go out on assignments with the intention of observing, questioning and reporting. We don’t go with the idea of expressing our personal opinions.

So when, the day before Princess Diana’s funeral, I was boarding the London bound train, I was ambushed by a local TV company asking for my views, I was taken aback. In the maelstrom of the hysterical days since August 31st I had been busy reporting on the situation and had not had much time to consider what I thought.

Continue reading

Signs of Spring

Since entering social isolation started early last year, we have covered the times and seasons in various website ‘galleries’ filling them with items sent in by our talented members.

The first lockdown started in March 2020, so we missed late Winter and early Spring. This new Gallery, on the theme of  ‘Signs of Spring’ aims to fill that gap. We hope too that it will give members cheer that warmer and brighter weather is on its way, new life is returning to the world and there is renewed hope for a safer and more carefree future.

Many, many thanks to all contributors so far. Scroll down the Page to see the latest sections. This Gallery Page is work-in-progress.  If you have snapped any other ‘Signs of Spring’ in your garden or on your walks in February or March, please do send them to us at webteam@aughton-ormskirk-u3a.co.uk.  As well as flowers, bushes and trees, we particularly welcome relevant images pics of birds, bees, butterflies and other insects, new life in farm or field such as lambs, and country and garden wildlife awakening from winter slumbers.

Moving Forward into Spring

(Click on any picture to move through the slideshow.)

* Note – According to Wikipedia, the Green Man is a “legendary being primarily interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, representing the cycle of new growth that occurs every spring.”

Many of the first photos sent in were of snowdrops.  So here is a poem from our resident poet, Judy. Although written a few years ago, it is particularly pertinent to 2021.

The Snowdrop

Leading us into a warmer direction
Taking us forward away from the snow
Away from the wind and the cold that will go.
As we see Spring colours starting to brighten
And the days grow longer in order to lighten
Projecting the warmth that will help us to cope
We will all move forward into seasons of hope.

Judy Ingman, Jan. 2018.

Early Spring Bulbs and Flowers

 

Early Buds and Greenery

 After the Snowdrops

Colouring the Street

Victoria Park, St Helens Road, Ormskirk

All of these flowers were on display in mid April, making an oasis of colour between two major roads in the town.

Previous Lockdown Galleries

To refresh your memory of the lovely and interesting 2020 Galleries, do revisit:

  • West Lancs in Bloom – galleries set up following a request, early on in the first lockdown, to members for photos taken when  pottering in the garden or out on their daily walk.
  • Gardening Group Gallery – a cornucopia of beautiful summer blooms.
  • West Lancs in Autumn  – gallery of great photos (plus a poem) with a seasonal theme.
  • Christmas Card Gallery – a seasonal webpage contains a miscellany of festive contributions sent in by our talented members.  It started off as photos of cards designed by members to convey greetings within our u3a, then expanded to include crafts, a poem and short stories.

Census Day – 21 March

Lauren Mullen is the Census Engagement Manager for West Lancashire, working very closely with local councillors and West Lancashire Borough Council to raise awareness of the Census.

Lauren is encouraging us to take the Census seriously, and has this message for all of us:

“The census is coming. By taking part, you can help inform decisions on services that shape your community, such as healthcare, education and transport.

The census is a unique survey that happens every 10 years. It gives us a snapshot of all the people and households in England and Wales – the most detailed information we have about our society.

It’s important that you fill in your census questionnaire. Without the information you share, it’d be more difficult to understand your community’s needs and to plan and fund public services.

In one way or another, your information touches the lives of every single person living in England and Wales, whether it’s through using census information to plan new schools, doctors’ surgeries or bike lanes.

Because these things matter to us all, everyone needs to complete the census. Do not worry, government officials dealing with applications you’ve made or payments or services you receive cannot see it.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) runs the census in England and Wales and is independent from government. Your details are protected by law and information published is always anonymous.

Census Day is Sunday 21 March 2021. You can fill yours in online as soon as you get your access code in the post. If your household circumstances change on Census Day, you can let the ONS know.

Everyone should have the support they need to fill in the census. If you, or anyone you know, needs help, there’s a wide range of support services available.

These include a contact centre that can give you help over the phone and guidance in a range of languages and accessible formats, including paper questionnaires and large print.

If you need help or have any questions, visit www.census.gov.uk

Lauren adds, “This year the Census will be taking a digital first approach and as such I want to work with local community organisations to help engage the local community with the Census and provide additional help and support in the lead up to Census day.

I have been asking groups and organisations whether they would be willing to post information on their websites and social media pages and print an article in any publications they send to their members. We also have posters that we can send off to centres in use. I have also been advising that I am able to host virtual meetings with the community to give more information on the Census too.

If this is something you would be able to help get involved with please contact me on lauren.mullen92@field.census.gov.uk

Kind Regards

Lauren Mullen”

Pilates via Zoom

The Pilates tutor, Laura Gornell, has sent this email to u3a Pilates Group Coordinator, Lorna:

Hi everyone,

Hope this email finds you well. It has been a very strange year for us all and I am sure we didn’t expect things to last this long. However we have the vaccine now and spring is around the corner.
I am sure you are missing your pilates as much as I am missing teaching you but we are still not able to get back to the Hall just yet. However I would like to give you the opportunity to try my online classes via “Zoom”.
You can try your first class for FREE and below is my website so you can contact me or you can call or txt me.
I am still able to observe you well, as I have set up a studio at home with a large screen to see you clearly.
Lots of people are using Zoom to keep in touch with family and friends and it is now part of most of our lives. You may even be doing other U3A activities via this platform.
Please give it a go, I am sure you will be glad you did. A few of the U3A members are already attending and feeling the benefit.

TIMETABLE : Some of these times are not on the website yet as they are new.

Monday-

  • 8.30am
  • 4.30pm
  • 7.00pm

Tuesday-

  • 8.30am
  • 7.15pm

Wednesday-

  • 8.30am
  • 10.50am

Thursday-

  • 8.30am
  • 7.30pm

Friday-

  • 8.30am

CHECK OUT MY WEBSITE BELOW – I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU

pilatesdefined.co.uk

STAY SAFE! Hope to see you soon
Love
Laura xxx

m: 07801 658210
e: lgornell@yahoo.co.uk

Note: These classes are not exclusively for u3a members.

Covid arrangements

Choir has not met during the current pandemic but we do communicate by email and have enjoyed a couple of zoom quizzes.  As soon as we can we will be back enjoying our singing.

Zoom Support

Spurred on by social isolation from friends and family, many Aughton & Ormskirk u3a members have entered into the world of videoconferencing.  A favourite platform is Zoom.  A good number of our A&O Groups have already been running successful remote meetings for a while now.  See Our Virtual u3a. And, good news! This year, the monthly Speaker Meetings have restarted using Zoom.

If you too would like to give Zoom a go, then you may be asking one of the following questions.  Skip those that don’t apply to your query and current level of expertise.

FAQs relating to Zoom

  1. As an A&O Group Leader, how can I use Zoom to arrange remote meetings with my Group Members?  A&O u3a has two Zoom licences which enable group and other  meetings to run without a restriction on duration. Refer to the Zoom Sessions Calendar to book a slot.
  2. How do I create and use a Zoom Account so that I can set up and / or join  Zoom sessions for my own use?  Check out on the National u3a Office website for How-to-Guidance Notes to find out how to create a personal Zoom account for use on your Mobile Phone, Tablet or Desktop Computer.  National u3a also runs very professional and informative Tutorials on using Zoom for various circumstances.
  3. I have been invited to a u3a Zoom meeting. Can I join in without downloading the Zoom app? Yes, just use the browser link provided on the invitation eg to a Speaker Meeting or a Group Event.  (You do not need to logon to Zoom using the username and password mentioned on the invitation.) If you do not wish to download and install the Zoom App, you can join a Zoom meeting direct from your browser – for details see either of the following:
  4. I would like to try out Zoom for the first time, but don’t feel confident in following the routes mentioned above.  Can anyone provide me with more individual assistance?  The Monday and Tuesday Computer Helpers are still around offering personal IT support to members remotely.   We can set up a practice  zoom session with you, guiding you through by email and phone and then Zoom itself. See IT  Support Contact details below.

IT Support Contacts

Email:

elearning@aughton-ormskirk-u3a.co.uk

webteam@aughton-ormskirk-u3a.co.uk

Phone:

Local members can refer to the A&O u3a February 2021 enews for Computer Helper names and phone numbers

1 February 2021- Black Dog in Folklore continued

The session:

Followed on the theme of Black Dogs and Boggy beasts with other similar beasts by completing the flitting with the boggart and starting with the Good Folk and the Fairy Folk.

1/.  Flitting with the Boggart .  Sometimes the helpful or mischievous boggart would become so troublesome a family would seek to move .  We followed a detailed tale of a boggart attached to a family.  This tale was designed to entertain.

We looked at the development of a story recorded in two different locations.  The story we started with was from Yorkshire recorded in Literary Gazette April 1825, quoted in Katharine M Briggs British Folktale and Legends: A sampler London Paladin/Granada 1977 p122.  The family were being troubled by an unseen Boggart who tormented the children.  This Boggart lived in a closet which had a knot hole in the door.  The children would poke things through, and they would be violently thrown out.  Eventually the family resolved to move out and leave the Boggart behind.  The Boggart hid himself in a large churn and spoke to them as they were travelling to the new home.  The family decided to return to the house they had just left.

This tale bears a remarkable likeness to that recorded by John Roby in ‘Traditions of Lancashire’.  This had some added details such as a worthy old lady recounting the tale but elements of it were almost verbatim.  This was set in Lancashire and is thought to be a more recent version.

These tales often have little gems of old traditions and ancient beliefs.  Knot holes were thought to be a way of seeing things you could not otherwise see, portals.  Holes in stones were believed to be protection from witches.

2/.  Fairy Folk/Good People

They are very much the superior elite of household beings.  These are not the fairies from children’s story books and are more sinister, tricksy, and dangerous and need to be treated with respect.

They would spend most of their time in their own realm but would visit our world for their own purposes or to encounter humans.

Care had to be taken in interactions with them.  Humans had to play fair with them, not be mean-spirited with them, not be disrespectful, not spy on them, not talk openly about them.  They are addressed as ‘Good People’, ‘Hidden People.  Using their names is disrespectful and there is power in using a name.  It was a widespread and ancient belief that using a name gave you power over them.  This is something which comes up in other tales such as Odysseus, Rumpelstiltskin.  It also features in modern day story-telling in films such as Beetlejuice and Candyman.

If they were offended, they would take swift and nasty retribution.

Stories often like morality tales

The lifestyle of the Good Folk was similar to humans and they had a social hierarchy.

There was an aristocracy with a king and a queen.  They would come to this world to hold their feasts, ride or hunt.

There were also ordinary Fairy folk who were small about the size 3-year-old children who looked human like.  They too enjoyed feasting, but they also had to work as farmers and bakers etc..  As part of their work, they would visit markets in the human world.  They could extract money from human farmers’ pockets without their knowledge.

Good people were masters of magic.  They could give gifts which appeared to be of little or no value and turn them into gold etc.  They could not fly using wings but used some magic device such as a cap, belt or spell.  They could appear and disappear at will.

The best time to see them was at dawn or dusk, bright star or moon lit nights.  Out of the corner of your eye between one blink and the next.  Also if you held a 4 leaf clover or had a holed stone.

There are lots of tales and legends which fall into 4 categories:-

  • Stories where they benefit from human kindness and offer a reward.
  • React to unkindness and disrespect.
  • Changelings, fairy left in place of a human baby
  • Adult humans wander into their Fairy Land or are abducted there.

We looked at a number tales about the first group of The Good People and these included :-

  • Scottish Borders:- a poor shepherd rewarded for helping a Fairy Woman and her child
  • Galloway:- Sir Godfrey Mac Cullough rewarded for diverting his drains
  • Lochmaben, Dumfries & Galloway:- a woman prospered after obliging the Fairy Folk
  • Deunant, Aberdaron:- a farmer prospered after redesigning his house to accommodate the Fairy Folk
  • Airlie, Tayside:- cakes baking at the fire were sometimes taken by the Fairy Folk

A common theme was finding Fairy underground homes under houses, tree roots etc.  This may link back to prehistoric workings which had chambers underground and may have been seen as an explanation of that.  There were also memories of offerings made in the past linking back to ploughing and rites to ensure a good harvest.

We looked in detail at Paddy O’Gadhra’s Fairy Shilling Malin Glen, Donegal:- where a Fairy rewarded his help carrying a heavy basket with a shilling which kept reappearing in his pocket even after he had spent it.  Eventually, he started to fear his wonderful gift so he went to the priest in Glencolumcile and told him what had happened. The priest put his stole around his neck and made the sign of the cross on the shilling, and it vanished.  This tale shows rewards for a good deed and the response to Christianity.

We also looked at the Broken Fairy Peel (ref Westwood & Simpson, “The Lore of the Land”):- A peel is a wooden shovel for the removal of bread from the oven.  This was set at Burlow Castle, Ardlington, in Sussex which was well known for fairies, and nobody liked to go by it after dark for fear of them.  One day, a man called Charles was ploughing a field alongside the earthwork, together with a mate called Harry, when they heard a noise under the ground, which was a Fairy, calling for help because she was baking bread and had broken her peel.  “Put it up and I’ll try and mend it”, said Charles, and up through a crack in the dry ground came a little peel, no bigger than a cheese knife. Charles was careful not to laugh at the tiny thing, but mended it and laid it back in the crack. Harry had his back turned during this and when Charles told him about it, he refused to believe it, saying it was nonsense and there were no fairies nowadays.

Next day they were working in the same field and stopped for their lunch, Charles heard the voice again, and saw standing close by the crack, a little bowl full of “summat that smelled a hell and all better than small beer.” He drank it up eagerly and meant to keep the bowl to show Harry, for he was elsewhere again, but it slipped out of his hands and smashed to pieces, so Harry only laughed at him.  But Harry was paid out.  He fell ill and could no longer work, and pined away ’til he was only skin and bone. The doctor could do nothing for him, and he died a year later, at the very same day and hour that the little voice was first heard and when he spoke against the Fairies.

This tale picks up a number of the recurring themes.  A place where you did not venture after dark, located close to ancient earthworks, with the fairy living under ground. A reward for a good turn and showing respect.  Dire punishment for being disrespectful.

Next time we shall continue with Fairies.

18 January 2021- Black Dog in Folklore continued

The session:

Followed on the theme of Black Dogs and Boggy beasts with other similar beasts.  Completing mischievous creatures and then looking at helpful ones.

1/.  We finished off the Hedley Kow.  Kow being the North Country name for a Boggart/Boggle.  This was known for playing tricks, could shape shift and would cause torment.  It could appear at the birth of a child, mocking and taunting those involved.  This was a special time where when new life is brought about and seen as a time where the boundaries between this world and the other were blurred.  It took many forms not all of them animal.

The origins of this type of being go back into history and have been embellished over time.  Tales of shape shifting goes back into Celtic Myths and legends.

2/.  We then had a look at a large number of examples of helpful creatures, these were found all over the country and included:-

  • Brownie of Strathmiglo Castle, Fife, Scotland:- helped the people of the Tower of Cash with the farm work in return for food.
  • Puck:- helped at Old Daniel Burton’s farm at Levenshulme, Lancashire until the farmer criticised his work; left for good when the farmer called down God’s blessing on him.
  • Hobthrust of Manor Farm, East Halton, Lincolnshire:- left after the farmer substituted his usual reward of a linen shirt with one made of hemp
  • Hob Hurst at Dore, Sheffield:- made shoes for a poor shoemaker until the man became too curious and too greedy.
  • Abbey Lubbers:- haunted abbeys where the monks were too fond of their food and drink.
  • Boggart of Wolf Hall, Chipping, Lancashire:- troublesome boggart was laid by a priest under a yew tree by the farm gate.
  • Boggart of Hothersall Hall, Lancashire:- laid under the roots of a laurel tree at the end of the house.
  • Boggart of Syke Lumb Farm, Blackburn, Lancashire:- helpful if treated well, or mischievous if treated with disrespect.
  • Flitting with the Boggart:- boggart attached himself to the family, rather than to the house. Boggart of Boggart Hall and Boggart Hole (Hall) Clough, Blackley, Lancashire. This will be looked at further in the next session.

3/.  There was a sort of common set of rules/themes when dealing with these creatures:-

  • They needed to be treated with respect.
  • Invoking God’s word would offend and cause them to leave.
  • They should not be exploited in what they do for humans, they were willing workers but there were always conditions attached
  • Sometimes they were easily offended by things like the offer of payments as they were nobody’s servant.  We discussed why they may be offended by the offer of clothes.  If they were poor quality this showed a lack of respect, the rules of hospitality said the best quality should be given, and it could be seen as disrespectful to their natural state, these creatures were often described as small hairy men.

4/. Origins

The origins of this folklore lie far back in time and they may have provided a consequence and a reason for things that happened that could not otherwise be explained.  There could have been a teaching purpose behind them.  They may have provided a moral framework as they were willing to help decent humans and this may have been developed as Christianity grew.

References to trees in the tales links back to Norse mythology, Yggdrasil was the tree which held the various worlds together and offerings of milk would be given to nourish it.  Holly is regarded as protective against things evil.

Next session Flitting with the Boggarts and then moving on to The Faery Folk or The Good Folk.

 

English Medieval Cathedrals 2021 series

As you know, from looking at the 2020 programme, things did not go as planned last season.  At present (3rd February 2021) it is still impossible to say when meetings in the usual venue will be able to resume.  As soon as there is any clear news of when we can resume, there will be a notification via Beacon.

Of the planned sessions for 2020 only the presentations for Canterbury and Rochester actually took place.  Assuming we can start again some time this Summer it is planned that we continue from where we left off, with the presentations on Chichester Cathedral, St Alban’s, St Paul’s and finally Westminster Abbey.  We don’t expect that the two planned visits, to Lancaster and to Beverley, will take place in 2021, but should be able to proceed in 2022, if there is still continuing interest by that point!

After these four presentations all the major medieval English cathedrals will have been covered.  However, all the Peters have been discussing possible subjects for 2022 and beyond, for example there are other cathedrals, more-recent foundations in England as well as ancient cathedrals in Wales and Scotland.  Another possible route would be the great store of remains of medieval abbeys and other religious houses, or surviving large medieval churches and minsters, no decisions are yet made.

In the meantime we look forward to seeing you all again for the Chichester Cathedral presentation, whenever that may be, and hope that you are staying safe and well.

Peter, Peter and Pete

Speaker Meetings

Thank you to all who have supported our Zoom Speaker Meetings during the first half of the year. Now we are pleased to say:

In person Speaker Meetings are back!

The following dates have been confirmed and will take place at Aughton Village Hall at 10.30 am on the dates shown.

Thursday 19th August: Carolyn Kirby: Women with Wings – the background to Carolyn’s latest novel.

Carolyn Kirby

Many of you will remember Carolyn Kirby, who spoke to us last year about the background to her first book, The Conviction of Cora Burns. Carolyn will be speaking to us in person on Thursday 19th August, on the subject of the background to her new book, When We Fall, a gripping second world war thriller, When We Fall was chosen by The Times and Sunday Times as one of the ten best historical novels of 2020,  and is due to be re-launched this year.

Carolyn says: “This illustrated talk tells the story of how I came to write When We Fall through the lives and careers of four female pilots of World War II.

The original inspiration for my novel lay with the amazing airwomen of Air Transport Auxiliary who overcame many barriers to fly warplanes from factories to RAF airfields during the war. My talk will focus on three of these women, including Amy Johnson, highlighting the glamour, excitement and daily dangers they faced in the skies above wartime Britain.

Flying in even more perilous skies was the Polish air force pilot, Janina Lewandowska, the real life character who is at the heart of the fictional story of When We Fall. Janina was a pioneering aviator and the only female victim of the notorious 1940 massacres of Polish prisoners of war by the Soviet Union at Katyn – the real event that underpins my novel.

Using photographs and visuals, I will explain how, over more than ten years of writing, my novel was shaped by the lives and fates of these remarkable women.”

The talk will be followed by an audience Q & A and a chance to buy a signed copy of the novel.

Dates for your diary – all in person at AVH:

2nd September         Debbie Brady         A Female in Fleet Street

7th October               Martin Lloyd.         Passports, Assassins, Traitors and Spies

7th November.         Philip Caine.           From Barrow to Baghdad

More details nearer the time, but in the meantime please keep an eye on newsletters, enews and website for the latest information.

Pam Ball


See Pam’s Past Speaker Meetings for info on previous events.

Please email any ideas for Future Speaker Meetings to Pam Ball, our Speaker Meeting Organiser,  at:

speakerteam@aughton-ormskirk-u3a.co.uk  or phone 07974 749362.

A day I will never forget

Marine AFC crestU3A member David Wotherspoon had “a day I will never forget” when Marine, the Crosby team he has followed for over 70 years, took on Tottenham Hotspur in the 3rd round of the FA Cup on January 10th this year. The team lost 0-5 but that was hardly surprising, says David, as Spurs had nine full internationals in their starting line-up.

David was taken to watch Marine as a child by his father who had been a player before the war and then a committee member and later president. “The first game I really remember was also in the FA Cup in 1947 against New Brighton, then in the Football League. We lost 0-4 and I cried all the way home on the ferry”. He lived all of his early life in Crosby; attending Merchant Taylors’ with compulsory rugby on Saturday afternoons meant a rush to get to Marine games.

He joined the Marine committee in the late 1960s and served on it for over 30 years before becoming president himself. “We are the only father and son so far on the presidents’ board. I am very proud of what the club achieved in that period. We had a rundown ground and two wooden sheds. Now we have an excellent stand and terracing all round the ground as well as a large clubroom complex.”

David edited the match programme for over 20 years and wrote the centenary history of Marine “The Mighty Mariners”.

“The Spurs game was undoubtedly the club’s greatest ever. I was fortunate to be able to go as one of the small Marine contingent as Covid forced the game to be played behind closed doors. It was more the tie that caught the imagination and put a smile on faces in this terrible time all around the world. I had messages from people I had not heard from for years and the social media support for the club was amazing.”

Marine lost out through having no crowd but the cup run of eight matches gave them a good income from FA awards and TV rights. “When we learnt it was behind closed doors someone came up with the idea of selling virtual tickets at £10 which would also go in a raffle for a variety of prizes.

“We thought we might get 600 but it quickly passed 6,000 and finished up in five figures. All of that was very welcome as lockdown had virtually ended all our normal sources of income.” The main thrust of that came from Spurs’ supporters and David is full of praise for the Premiership club and their followers. “They treated us with warmth and respect. For example, Covid stopped the normal exchange of shirts after the game but Spurs gave our players a complete new set of kit so each one could have a named shirt as a great souvenir”.

Marine also has a strong community operation which has been involved in delivering meals to pensioners in the lockdown as well as a host of other activities including the players coaching in schools. Various Tottenham groups gave considerable support to these efforts to mark the tie.
David hopes the game and the TV coverage watched by 6.7 million viewers will give people a better idea of what a club like Marine is about. “It is very like u3a with people coming together to enjoy something special. It welcomes families and creates lifelong friendships. It relies on a group effort”

He reckons he has seen around 4,000 Marine games, still travelling away on the team coach until Covid struck. “I suspect the virus has put an end to this season for non-league clubs but the memory of that Sunday will keep me going for a long time to come.”

My Experience as an Oxford Vaccine Trial Volunteer

This very interesting and informative letter was sent in by one of our members:

My Experience as an Oxford Vaccine Trial Volunteer

As with most people it has been a switchback ride for me ever since the first national lockdown last March. Even before then I stumbled across the YouTube channel of health expert John Campbell who calmly anticipated the pandemic as early as January and I felt a mounting anxiety turning to disbelief with the slow response in the UK. Looking back on those times I realise how depleted my current energies are since the days of sourcing face masks and making hand sanitiser out of rubbing alcohol and sending out thermometers to those I thought were vulnerable.

Continue reading

Pre-pandemic 2020

26 January 2020

We had a splendid  ‘cabaret’ of sketches, songs🤣🎤, and all-round entertainment provided by our Drama group!   Refreshments 🍪 midway,  of course.

23 February 2020 

We held a  special ‘Quiz on Ormskirk’ ✍  courtesy of Bill & Sue Watkinson, then a presentation by Peter Gateley on ‘Trips by the U3A Bird  🐦🕊🐤Group’

4 January 2021- Black Dog in Folklore continued

The session:

Followed on the theme of Black Dogs and Boggy beasts with other similar beasts.

1/.  These occur all over the country and vary from being extremely scary and dangerous, through mischievous, to being helpful.  Although they have similar features to black dogs they are considered as different creatures and occur in the same areas.  They tend to be more than sightings, with more of them having detailed folktales attached.

2/.  We looked at a wide range of examples.

These included:-

  • Monstrous creatures called the Baobhan Sith:- which were vampire like, in the form of beautiful women; haunted lonely countryside in the Scottish Highlands; trapped unwary men and drank their blood.
  • Boggle:- amorphous glowing shape; haunted a lane at Orton, Kirkby Stephen, after dark
  • Buckies:- haunted lonely roads at night in Lowland Scotland
  • Madame Pigott:- haunted lonely lanes around Chetwynd, Hereford & Worcester, jumping up behind horsemen and strangling them with long boney fingers.
  • “The White Bucca and the Black” folk tale from Cornwall where a feisty old Cornish woman gets the better of someone playing tricks upon her. A good example of an entertaining story.

Common themes occurred in the tales and characteristics of the beings.  Long boney fingers, shape shifting.  Locations were frequently lonely, dark, late at night, near to water, abandoned castles, scary places.  They often preyed on travellers.

3/. Ignis Fatuus (Foolish Fires)

Includes: – Lantern Man, Shiner, the Shiners, Jack O’ Lantern, Will o’ the Wisp, Hobby Lanthorn, Kit with the Canstick.  These used false lights to tempt travellers off the paths and into marshes, bogs & other dangerous countryside.  These were linked to marshy places and had a very direct link to the geography of the area so frequently occur in Dartmoor, The Somerset Levels, East Anglia.  Originating as explanations for the ignition of marsh gases before these were understood.

In Northern Europe bogs were special places, seen as the boundary between this world and the other world.  Beautiful Bronze and Iron Age artefacts have been found in bogs and are thought to be offerings.  There is also a history of bog bodies.

We looked in detail at the folk tale of the dead moon, the story can be found in ‘British Folk Tales and Legends: A Sampler Katharine M Briggs London, Granada/Paladin, 1977 pp 21-23’.  We discussed the rituals they had to perform for protection and in order to free the moon.  This tale took place by boggy water a dark and scary place.  The moon is personified as a beautiful woman.

4/.  We started looking at an example of a mischievous being.  The Hedley Kow:- a hob that appeared in various forms and pestered people in Hedley, Northumberland.  This was a shape shifter frequently playing tricks on servant girls in farmhouses whilst they were away from their tasks tangling their knitting, letting the cat at the milk and similar tricks.

Next time we shall continue with more on the Hedley Kow and mischievous creatures and household creatures which are friendly to humans if treated properly.

Planet Earth: A User’s Guide

The 2020 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures featured three eminent scientists from different fields presenting a unique ‘user’s guide’ to Planet Earth. Their programmes unravelled astonishing global systems and remarkable natural wonders that combine to keep life on Earth alive.

And they explored how human activity has become an overwhelming geological force – disrupting the finely tuned systems that have kept our planet running smoothly for billions of years. We learnt how we can each help repair the damage we’re doing and live more sustainably, as Earth’s population increases.

All three episodes are available on the BBC iPlayer until December 2021!

Each of these world-famous Lectures from the Royal Institution bring to life one aspect of Earth’s inner workings:

Episode 1 – Professor Chris Jackson travels back into deep geological time, charting the Earth’s climate as it swings from hothouse to ice house and back again. With the help of spectacular volcanic eruptions and giant snowballs, he shows us how our planet’s oldest rocks and fossils provide evidence of radical climate changes throughout its history.

Chris reveals that what drives these changes is the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. For billions of years, volcanic activity increased CO2 levels, and mountain building reduced them. But in the last 100 years, a new kind of geological force is tipping the balance – human activity. For the first time, it is we who are changing the planet Earth’s climate, and at a rapid rate, with dangerous consequences unless we act quickly.

Episode 2 – Dr Helen Czerski unpicks the ocean’s heating and plumbing systems, showing how whale poo, waterfalls beneath the sea and zooplankton are all vital parts of an engine that distributes heat and nutrients around our planet.

Helen voyages from the cities of the ocean to its deserts, from its deepest depths to its surface, via an alien inner structure that is home to so much of the Earth’s life. This planetary life support system plays a critical role in generating weather, providing food and connecting trade routes. The ocean is an underappreciated resource. Helen tells us what we need to know to be good citizens of an ocean planet.

Episode 3 – Dr Tara Shine takes a deep breath and marvels at something we all take for granted: oxygen. She demonstrates how Earth produces a never-ending supply of this gas – the raw material for all complex life – and investigates what else is in the air that we breathe. One critical component is carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that’s causing a dangerous rise in atmospheric warming.

Tara looks at the carbon footprint of a loaf of bread and how hydrogen might be the answer for heating and transport. From developing exciting new technologies to protecting wetlands and forests, the solutions are everywhere. Our ideas and ingenuity can create a better, cleaner and more sustainable future.

21 December 2020 – The Black Dog in Folklore continued

The session:

Continued the topic of the black dog in Folklore.

1/.  Black Dogs as Guardians

We looked at many examples across the country.  Guiding people across difficult terrain, protecting from thieves, saving them from cars.  They appear and disappear mysteriously.

2/.  In Classical and Celtic Mythology

Dogs acted as hunting companions to the gods and were also protectors and healers.  Celtic healing shrines have been found with images of dogs.  Dog licks have been associated with healing.

3/.  Black Dog and Bogey Beasts

These are always mischievous, malicious, scary or dangerous.  They have little or no regard for humankind.  They are not always black.

They occurred in forms other than dogs, most often an animal but not always.  They are sighted across the country and are often seen in places which are subject to misty, gloomy conditions.  Again the common themes for these were sightings at bridges, crossroads, graveyards etc. which are mystical crossing points to the otherworld.

The other forms include a cross between rough-coated dog and monkey, a donkey and monkey, a small horse, a headless duck, a bag of soot, white rabbit.

They can be shape shifters.  We looked in more detail at the Pelton Brag County Durham and that was reported to have taken more than one form: like a bushy tailed calf, a white sheet, a naked man without a head, a galloway.  (ref Westwood & Simpson, “The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England’s Legends, Penguin Books, 2006)

Some of the stories start as legends and become folk tales with detailed back stories. One such example is The White Rabbit of Crank from Lancashire.  (ref Terence Whitaker, “Lancashire’s Ghosts and Legends” Robert Hale Ltd ,1980)

It is possible that the references to rabbits may originally been hares, as rabbits were introduced by the Romans.

 

Next time we shall continue with boggarts.

 

 

Christmas Card Gallery

A huge Thank You to all members who have contributed to this festive webpage. It has now expanded from the original idea of a gallery of  ‘Christmas Cards’ to include seasonal short stories (and a poem) and some relevant links to the National u3a website.  Read on!

Continue reading

Folklore/Mythology

The group has begun zoom sessions on the 3rd Monday morning of every month. The next meeting will be on 21st December, when we will be talking about Black Dogs, Boggarts and other supernatural creatures in British folklore. For further details, please contact June Jones by email at r.jones45@btinternet.com

7 December 2020 – Black Dogs in Folklore

The session:

Started the topic of the black dog in Folklore, these occur all over Britain and Continental Europe.   Some just have sightings and some have stories added.

1/.  Black Dogs as Portents of Death and Disaster

We looked at many examples including Formby Merseyside, Bunbury Cheshire, Portland Dorset, Norfolk, Ely and more.

The common themes for these were sightings at bridges, crossroads, graveyards etc. which were places associated with being the boundaries between the world and the afterworld, places of transition which feature heavily in Celtic Myths.  In Greek Myths Cerberus is a hound which guards the gates of hell to stop the dead from getting out.    Mythology bleeding into folklore.

The black dogs all have a similar appearance, they are large, shaggy, black and have big eyes.  They are portents of death or disaster.  Many people believed ordinary dogs could predict death.

2/. Black Dogs with Mischievous/ Scary/ Malign Intentions

Examples were from Beetham in the old Westmorland, Manchester Old Church, Peel Castle, IOM and more. Not all the examples were from quiet places, some were in the centre of cities.

These dogs are not portents of misfortune but are scary, may make physical attacks and there is a need to keep a distance from them.  They have more in common with the supernatural bogey which appears in many forms.  They may let the horses out, are mischievous, cause you to go off the path.  They may have no links to the first group of black dogs.

3/.   Black Dogs linked to the Devil

We looked at a case from Bungay, Suffolk of an attack by the Devil in the form of a black dog in 1577.   A this can be found on the internet by looking for ‘A Straunge and Terrible Wunder’ by Abraham Fleming.  It manifested itself inside the church during a terrific thunderstorm, killing two people, injuring others and causing strange damage.  On the same day there was also an incident in Blythburgh and the claw marks remain on the church door there.  Here is a link to online article with photograph of the Blythburgh church door:- https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/weird-suffolk-black-shuck-folklore-1-6503598

This could be an explanation/interpretation of ball lightning from the severe storm.

Next time we shall look at Black Dogs being examples of supernatural creatures such as bogles and as harmless or guardians.

References:-   Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson ‘The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England’s Legends, from Spring-heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys’.

 

Updating Country Dancing news December 2020.

🎄Well here we are in December, no dancing since mid March 2020.

Some of us have managed to stay in touch with a WhatsApp group, cheering us up and covering diverse topics.

However GOOD NEWS. A few weeks ago June started solo Zoom English Country Dancing sessions, in our regular dance slot of Friday mornings at 11.00.

It’s not as scary as it may sound and is getting to be enjoyable. Seeing fellow dancers for a chat and a tea break, we never had one of those before. Hearing the familiar tunes, dancing the dances. No need to worry if you make a wrong turn or forget how to do a Grimstock Hey, you can’t upset anyone, there is only you to dance as freely as you wish.

June has posted details on the recent November u3a enews and she can be contacted if you would like to join us. (June’s email address is in the enews and her phone number is in the main Country Dancing Group Page.) 🎄

🎄Stay safe and hopefully Covid-19 vaccine will enable us to meet up in the Village Hall in 2021.

Good wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

November 2020 – Scandinavian Mythology

Reconvened remotely after a long break due to Covid-19.

The session:

Completed the topic of Scandinavian Mythology

1/.  Recapped the last topic from March covering the origins of Thor and his accessibility to both the gods and ordinary people.

2/.  Freya the Bride – Another battle of wits with the Frost Giants which started with the Mjollnir (Thor’s hammer) which was held for ransom for the hand of Freya.  This involved Thro dressing up as Freya and Loki dressing as Freya’s bridesmaid.  A tall tale where Thor in the guise of Freya eats an ox, eight salmon and drinks barrels of mead.  Thor eventually gets Mjollnir back and slays the giants.

3/.  Thor’s Visit to Utgard.  Another confrontation with the Frost Giants.  A tale you could imagine being spun around a roaring fire.  Whilst on a peacemaking visit to Utgard, Loki and Thialfi and Thor are challenged to contests in eating, running and drinking which are not what they first appear.  At first it seems that they have failed but they have not.  The eating contest was against fire, the running contest against thought and the drinking contest was an attempt to drink the sea.  Far from failing Thor had caused the sea levels to drop and the first ever tide.    The Frost Giant respected them for their efforts and there was a guarded truce.

4/.  The Lay of Hymir – starts with a crisis in Asgard as they have run out of ale and mead.  To brew the ale and mead they need a vast cauldron.  Tyr, part giant, with a father with a cauldron five miles deep travels with Thor to get it.  Cunning is used and great feats of strength.

5/.  In a number of creation myths the forces of chaos are pushed to the edges during creation.  These are represented by the Frost Giants in the Scandinavian myths.  Thor’s role is in keeping this chaos at bay.  There is a need to be alert as chaos could return.  The myths are larger than life but always presented in an understandable way.  The magic and mysticism are low key.

6/.  Discussed what our next topic should be.  We decided for our next topic we should shift away from far away places, “big” mythology and gods & goddess, to folklore that is closer to home.   We shall be looking at Black Dogs and other similar supernatural creatures, including boggarts, bogles, bugganes et al.  Legends and folktales concerning these creatures are common all over Britain, and it will be interesting to speculate as to why they were so widespread. We can also think about possible origins and meanings behind the stories.

The sessions are now taking place remotely and will be the 1st and 3rd Monday of the month at 10:00.  If you would like to be involved, please contact June Jones

Group Visits 2020

Before the Covid19 pandemic caused group activities to be suspended, two visits had taken place in 2020.

Thursday 12th February – Pennington Flash Country Park

The visit had been postponed from the Tuesday because of the atrocious weather conditions on the Tuesday.  The Thursday morning was a bright cold and windy Winter morning with just one short sharp hail shower.  Six members of the group attended and a total of 38 species were recorded.  A particular highlight was the large number of Goosander seen (c.15).

Tuesday 10th March – Martin Mere WWT

One of our regular visits, on this occasion seven members of the group attended and a total of 49 species were recorded.  It was a cloudy morning with some showers and strong winds.

As a result of the Covid19 restrictions the planned visits for the rest of the year were all cancelled.

The visits that had been planned were:

  • 14th April – Lunt Meadows LWT, Sefton
  • 12th May – Sizergh Castle NT / Leighton Moss RSPB
  • 9th June – Yarrow Country Park, Chorley
  • 14th July – Rivington Country Park, Bolton
  • 8th September – Brockholes LWT, Preston
  • 13th October – Speke Hall NT
  • 27th October – Burton Mere RSPB & Dee Estuary
  • 10th November – Marshside RSPB, Southport
  • 8th December – Mere Sands Wood LWT, Rufford

Click ‘Continue reading’ for the full list of species seen on the February and March visits:

Continue reading

Christmas Card Gallery Guidelines

At an Autumn Zoom meeting of the Communications Subcommittee, a suggestion came up of publishing a u3a Christmas Card Gallery on the website. If that idea appeals to you, please do get creative and produce a ‘Christmas Card’ using your talents and skills in painting, drawing, cartooning, textiles and other crafts, hand-made cards etc. Then just send a photo of it to the Web Team for publication.  See those we have already received in our Christmas Card Gallery..
For practical and technical reasons, there have to be a few guidelines:
  • it should be your own work, or you’ll need to check that included photos, clipart etc are free of copyright
  • it should be a single page
  • send in your digital ‘card’ as an attachment in an email to webteam@aughton-ormskirk-u3a.co.uk if you already have it stored electronically (or take a photo or scan it and send that file)
  • greetings text can be included in the image on the page and / or on the gallery ‘caption’ area which will appear below the card in the gallery.  Include your caption in the email message when you send in your card file attachment
  • the recipient(s) of the greetings should not be personal or individual, though the sender(s), ie the card maker(s), can name or identify themselves as they wish

To further explain this last point …….  we are looking only for u3a-related greetings to recipients at the Group / Committee / u3a friends level.  Therefore suitable greetings (appearing on card or caption or between both might be along the lines of:

  • “Happy Christmas to members of the Such-and-Such Group from Josephine Bloggs”
  • “Joe Bloggs sends Best Wishes to all his u3a Friends”
  • “Christmas Greetings from the Web Team to our Website Visitors”

For further guidance, please ontact: webteam@aughton-ormskirk-u3a.co.uk

Maths Week – 9th to14th November

With increasingly gloomy weather and restrictions on venturing out, why not give your brain some exercise instead of your feet!

The national u3a website has always had some great resources, and now has a new winter learning programme with links to some intriguing activities.

Among the many online events are three Zoom sessions for anyone with an interest in maths

All three of these online events are part of the u3a series of events to tie in with Maths Week 2020 which runs from 9th to 14th November.

If these whet your appetite, you may be interested in the weekly Maths Challenge run by the national u3a – with 30 week’s worth (and counting!) of challenges to have a go at!

Message from the Chairman

U3A ACTIVITIES  – From your Chairman, Alan Starkie

You do not need me to tell you about the restrictions that have been placed upon us during the Covid pandemic. The restrictions have also put a halt to our normal U3A activities, which we have all previously enjoyed.

Your Committee and Trustees have, over the last six months, endeavoured to formulate a plan that would allow certain groups to re start under the prevailing rules at the time. As the rules are changed and the virus increases in severity, any plans for face-to-face meetings in the near future are now very much on hold.

Meanwhile, the way forward is for us to be a “Virtual” U3A.

Some groups have already started Zoom meetings in order to keep in touch with their members.  In order to facilitate this and to broaden its use by more groups, we have now purchased a 24/7 Zoom licence.

This means that instead of meetings lasting for about 40 minutes, as per the personal channel, they can now last for as long as is required.   Group leaders will be informed how this will work and they will no doubt contact you in the near future to encourage you to participate.

Our Treasurer, Derrick Fewings, using experience gained throughout his working life, has formulated an approach to restarting activities and the associated risk assessment.   This will enable the restarting of face-to-face activities as circumstances change in the future. Again, Group leaders will be heavily involved in this process and they in turn will keep you fully informed.

Things will change.

We cannot expect to continue, “as was” before all this upheaval started in March.

We may have to change our meeting venues and times and how we run our meetings under stricter hygiene precautions but…

…  WE WILL RETURN

Footnote – from Chairman of Trustees, Sue Watkinson

Our members who are now ‘Zooming In’ are leading the field.  All over the country u3a members are developing creative ways of keeping in touch and moving their group activities forward.  I’ve been enjoying the Creative Writing Group via a private 40 minute link since early on in lockdown and we’ve now taken up a two-hour slot on the new  u3a system.   At the moment it’s free for members.

Among others,   Italian groups have kept up their language skills, Musical Theatre and Drama are active and some monthly groups are meeting for discussion, poetry, book reading and Shakespeare.  Congratulations to all group leaders and members who have kept contact during these long months whether it is by email, digital meetings or the good old fashioned telephone.

Zooming In can give great social contact.   Our new licence gives 24/7 access so why not have an evening or weekend meeting?  It gives time to catch up, share experiences, plan and get ready to start up again.

I’ve always been proud of our u3a and I still am.    It has meant so much to me in retirement.   If there’s an opportunity to try a new technique for you to enjoy it in a different way, why not say yes.

Keep safe, stay well and see you all soon.

West Lancs in Autumn

Following a request in the September enews, members have sent us a great selection of fine photos taken in their gardens and on local walks. Many, many thanks to all contributors.

Now, to set the scene, here is a timely poem from our resident poet, Judy Ingman.

Autumn

Summer’s ended. Now it’s Autumn’s call
Leaves unlinking, feathering to fall
Oranges, yellows, reds all down
As Autumn changes greens to brown.

Stormy rains wet paths and flood
Slimy grounds become slushy mud.
Fields stripped bare to the horizon strain
While walkers trudge on the uneven terrain.

Clouds and Sun intermix together
Whilst our Planet accepts the cooler weather.
Landscapes open into Nature’s soul
As all life adapts for Winter’s cold.

Judy 1/10/2020

 

To run this gallery as a presentation of full-size photos, click or tap on the U3A Logo.

As an extra treat of a seasonal music and photos, check out this YouTube video suggested by CXLVII.

Coronavirus Science

Coronavirus Science

Thankyou and goodbye! 11/05/2021)

Have you had enough of coronavirus?  With the government’s announcement, yesterday of the reduction of restrictions to take effect from 17th May (see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-coronavirus-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-do) the coronavirus emergency is largely over and this post will no longer be updated.  This is all assuming of course that no new virus variant which evades the vaccines does not suddenly appear; but this seems unlikely.  If it does appear we may be back in business.

One last thought: next time you get concerned about media reports of the horrors of genetic engineering remember that you have recently had genetically engineered products injected into you as have most of the folk campaigning about frankenfoods, tampering with nature etc.  The products are called coronavirus vaccines. 

National Status

There is a government 60 page document called Covid-19 Response Spring 2021 setting out the roadmap out of the current lockdown for England which gives full details of the new virus variants, vaccines and therapeutics, a four step “roadmap” to future relaxation of restriction, test and trace, economic issues etc.  This explains how the restrictions included in this guidance will be lifted over time.  There are even more details in the document’s data annex  for real enthusiasts.  Much of what you see in the media originates from here but shorn of the “interpretations” added by the media commentator.  The roadmap section is particularly useful if you are trying to guess what you may be able to do and when during early summer.   From 29 March, the ‘stay at home’ rule ended and up to 6 people or 2 households can meet outside, additionally “shielding” ended on the 31 March.

Local Situation

Covid 19 Mass Testing in West Lancashire

Information for testing sites for West Lancashire (derived from westlancs.gov.uk) is given below:

Permanent Testing site at Westgate, Skelmersdale

A testing site has opened in the overflow car park close to Sandy Lane Health Centre in Skelmersdale. The site will be open 8am–8pm seven days a week.  Although it is close to the health centre and behind the shops on Sandy Lane, the full address of the site is: Westgate Overflow Car Park, Westgate, Skelmersdale.

Permanent Testing site at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk

A testing site is open on the tennis courts at Edge Hill University seven days a week between 8am and 8pm. This site is open to local residents as well as students.  This is a walk in facility. If you arrive by car, you will be asked to park your vehicle and walk to the testing site ready for your appointed time. If you arrive on foot, you will be directed by testing facility staff upon arrival and asked to follow clearly marked routes which avoid accessing the main areas of campus itself.  Members of the public attending for a booked test have been asked not to use any facilities on site during their visit and to follow the planned routes to reach the testing site and then leave the campus once they have taken their test.

A permanent testing site is also available in Haydock.

Mobile testing units in West Lancashire from January 2021

As well as the two permanent testing sites mentioned above there will be mobile testing units in different parts of the borough on different days open between 10 am and 3 pm.  One of these will be based at West Lancashire College Skelmersdale Campus College Way, Skelmersdale, Lancashire, WN8 6DX.  Dates of opening can be found from  westlancs.gov.uk.

Others will be in the car park at All Saints Church Hall Car Park, Station Road, Hesketh Bank, PR4 6SQ  on 4, 11, 18 and 25 March and Burscough Fitness and Racquets Centre, Bobby Langton Way, Burscough, L40 0SD.  Again, dates of opening can be found from  westlancs.gov.uk.

Testing at these sites will be available to West Lancashire residents travelling by vehicle and on foot. You must book in advance in order to get a test, and you will only be able to book from the previous evening.  If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and wanting to apply for a test visit the NHS.uk dedicated COVID-19 testing site alternatively you can dial 119.

 

Coronavirus Information

The main symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, then you must self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started and arrange to have a test. This means that you must not go to work, school, university or public places – work from home if you can.

If you live with someone who has tested positive, someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive, or you are told to isolate by NHS Test and Trace then you’ll also need to self-isolate for 10 days.

Further information on COVID-19 symptoms and what to do if you display symptoms are available here.

I think the test you are most likely to have at one of these centres is the PCR test but two types of test have been used in Liverpool, the so called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test which detects the virus RNA genetic material and the Lateral Flow Antigen test (LFA) which detects the presence of the Covid 19 antigen on the virus.  The LFA test is rapid, giving results in perhaps 15 minutes rather than having to process the samples in a laboratory (as for the PCR test).  It has been used as a rapid turn around test at walk in centres for asymptomatic residents who wish to know whether they don’t have Covid 19, or do but are pre-symptomatic so that they don’t know that they do.  More recently you have been able to order online a free LFA test to use at home; you can order a pack of 7 tests from https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests.  After you have taken the test you report the results online.  This facility can be particularly useful if you are about to visit someone who is particularly vunerable and you want to be sure that you do not carry any infection.

All of this has caveats with regard to false positive and false negative rates for each type of test but these are relatively low.  I think that if you are offered a home testing kit this will be of the PCR type and you will take the samples yourself which will then be collected and taken for laboratory analysis, with you getting the results in a day or so.

It is important to understand that both types of test detect the current presence of the virus and therefore tell you that you may infect others and/or develop more severe symptoms yourself shortly.  It does not tell you that you have had the virus in the past and have developed some immunity; for this you need a serology (blood) test which will look for the presence of antibodies you have developed following the earlier infection.

 

Covid 19 Vaccination

Vaccination Safety

If you are concerned about adverse reactions to the Astra Zeneca and Pfizer vaccines especially following publicity about blood clotting in a number of European countries you can access the advice from the UK Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency here but a brief abstract is shown below:

  • Data published from UK’s independent medicines regulator confirms approved vaccines meet strict regulatory standards for safety
  • Vast majority of reported side effects are mild and short lasting, reflecting a normal immune response to vaccines – including a sore arm and fatigue
  • The benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines outweigh the risks

Routine safety monitoring and analysis of the approved COVID-19 vaccines by the UK’s medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), shows that the safety of these vaccines remains as high as expected from the clinical trial data that supported the approvals. The safety profile of the vaccines remains positive and the benefits continue to far outweigh any known side-effects.

Over 10 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines have been given across the UK and the MHRA has gathered a large amount of safety data. Data published today shows 22,820 reports of suspected side effects, or an overall reporting rate of 3 in 1,000 doses of vaccine administered from 9 December 2020 to 24 January 2021. This reassuring data has shown that the vast majority of reported side effects are mild and all are in line with most types of vaccine, including the seasonal flu vaccine. These include sore arms and mild ‘flu-like’ symptoms, which reflect a normal immune response to vaccines and are short-lasting.

The European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organisation also confirm the  conclusions of the MHRA that these vaccines are safe.

Vaccination Effectiveness

We, of course, want high efficacy in preventing us from catching Covid 19 or at least developing serious illness as a result, but we also need to know how well a vaccine inhibits transmission of the virus from one person (who may be asymptomatic) to another.  If inhibition of transmission is high it means that the virus will not be able to spread (the magic R number is driven well below 1) and the pandemic shrinks quickly allowing more normal living to resume.  Recent results from Public Health England on vaccine efficacy shows that both the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are highly effective in reducing COVID-19 infections among older people aged 70 years and over. Since January, protection against symptomatic COVID, 4 weeks after the first dose, ranged between 57 and 61% for one dose of Pfizer and between 60 and 73% for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The data, details of which  can  be accessed here,

  • compares the rate of vaccination in symptomatic people aged over 70 years of age who test positive for COVID-19, compared to those who test negative
  • compares the rate of hospitalisation in confirmed COVID-19 cases aged over 80 who were vaccinated more than 14 days before testing positive, compared to unvaccinated cases
  • compares the rate of deaths in confirmed COVID-19 cases aged over 80 who were vaccinated with Pfizer vaccine more than 14 days before testing positive, compared to unvaccinated cases

In the over 80s, data suggest that a single dose of either vaccine is more than 80% effective at preventing hospitalisation, around 3 to 4 weeks after the jab. There is also evidence for the Pfizer vaccine, which suggests it leads to an 83% reduction in deaths from COVID-19.  The data also shows symptomatic infections in over 70s decreasing from around 3 weeks after one dose of both vaccines.  The new analysis adds to growing evidence that the vaccines are working and are highly effective in protecting people against severe illness, hospitalisation and death.

National Vaccination Availability

How likely are you to be able to get vaccinated against the Covid 19 virus?

In total the government has now placed provisional orders for 367 million doses of coronavirus vaccines; these are shown below:

Vaccine type Vaccine No of doses Status
Adenovirus Oxford/AstraZeneca 100 million Approved and in deployment
Adenovirus Janssen 30 million Phase 3 trials
mRNA Pfizer/BioNTech 40 million Approved and in deployment
mRNA Moderna 17 million Approved
Protein Adjuvant GlaxoSmithKline/Sanofi Pasteur 60 million Phase 1/2 trials
Protein Adjuvant Novavax 60 million Phase 3 trials
Inactivated whole virus Valneva 60 million Phase 1/2 trials

some of these may not be available until well into 2021.  However 3 vaccines which have demonstrated high efficacy and safety in trials have been approved by the MHRA agency, these are available sooner, they are:

  • AstraZeneca/Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine (currently in use)
  • Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (currently in use)
  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (approved, available from 7th April 2021)

The Pfizer vaccine received regulatory approval on 2nd December 2020 and the AstraZeneca vaccine on 30th December 2020.  Vaccination using to Pfizer vaccine began 7th December; if you were vaccinated early you therefore probably had the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, the Oxford Zeneca vaccine came into use a little later.  The Moderna vaccine was approved on 8th January 2021 and has been available from 7th April 2021. The Janssen vaccine by Johnson & Johnson which uses a similar technology to the Oxford Astrazeneca one but needs only a single injection and the Novavax vaccines are expected to be approved shortly and so could be in use later in the summer.

If you have been vaccinated you may be concerned about when you will get a second dose as the government extended the time for the second dose from 3 weeks to 12 to enable more people to have their first dose and gain some protection.  It is important to realise that the vaccine manufacturers base their advice for vaccination timing based on their phase 3 trials and the subsequent approval by the MHRA, this begs the question of course of why a particular spacing between vaccinations was chosen for the trials.  This may be just because this was an interval used in other vaccines which has been shown to be OK, there just has not been enough time to evaluate the vaccines with different timings between doses.  You should not be concerned about changes to the vaccination timings, the general expert opinion now seems to be that 12 weeks is perfectly OK for dose timings and that there is even some reason to believe that it is better than the 3 weeks originally planned.  Interestingly there is some thought that having a second dose using a different vaccine may be useful as different vaccines target different sites on the virus so using two different ones may give the virus more difficulty in developing resistance.  There simply has not been enough time yet to evaluate these alternatives as the time cycle for vaccine development has been compressed from maybe 10 years to 1.  My guess is that if we need a booster vaccination in the autumn it may be by with a modified existing vaccine or even a mixture of two or more of the existing vaccines.

The priorities for vaccination will be based on earlier advice from the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation  (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/priority-groups-for-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-advice-from-the-jcvi-25-september-2020/jcvi-updated-interim-advice-on-priority-groups-for-covid-19-vaccination) i.e.

  1. older adults’ resident in a care home and care home workers
  2. all those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers
  3. all those 75 years of age and over
  4. all those 70 years of age and over
  5. all those 65 years of age and over
  6. high-risk adults under 65 years of age
  7. moderate-risk adults under 65 years of age
  8. all those 60 years of age and over
  9. all those 55 years of age and over
  10. all those 50 years of age and over
  11. rest of the population (priority to be determined)

Local Vaccination Availability

You can see what is going on in the NHS in West Lancashire at https://www.westlancashireccg.nhs.uk/2021/01/community-covid-19-vaccination-programme-in-west-lancashire , their frequently asked questions section is particularly useful.  Most U3A members are of an age where vaccination in Jan or Feb 2021 are probable, some U3A members in the 80s had their Pfizer vaccinations in December and have subsequently had their follow up 3 weeks later.

How will you get it?  For the Ormskirk area probably the Hants Lane Health Centre.  You might like to see the information your GP will have from the British Medical Association at  https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/covid-19/gp-practices/covid-19-vaccination-programme 

If you are put off having a vaccination by things you might learn from social media or the more lurid stories in some of the press you should read the definitive information from the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency  (The MHRA is the approval body for new medicines in the UK).  Information for recipient of the Pfizer vaccine is at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulatory-approval-of-pfizer-biontech-vaccine-for-covid-19/information-for-uk-recipients-on-pfizerbiontech-covid-19-vaccine and for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/948335/Information_for_UK_recipients_COVID-19_Vaccine_AstraZeneca.pdf

Coronavirus Genetic Variants

The coronavirus, or more specifically the SARS-CoV-2 virus undergoes variations in its genetic composition as it reproduces inside human cells.  These are called mutations and generate headlines in the media about “mutant viruses”.  The coronavirus is a RNA virus which the human cell’s reproduction mechanism (which the virus takes over to reproduce itself) has particular difficulty in reproducing faithfully the genetic code of the virus: mutant variations are therefore easily produced.  Often the new variant may have more than one change to its gene.  Many thousands of mutations have already arisen, but only a very small minority are likely to be important and to change the virus in an appreciable way.  There is a consortium of laboratories in the UK called COG-UK .  The consortium is a partnership of the UK’s four public health agencies, as well as the Wellcome Sanger Institute and 12 academic institutions which undertakes random genetic sequencing of positive covid-19 samples around the UK.  Since being set up in April 2020 the consortium has sequenced 140 000 virus genomes from people infected with covid-19.  It uses the data to track outbreaks, identify variant viruses, and publish a weekly report (https://www.cogconsortium.uk/data/).  They have currently identified around 4000 mutations in the spike protein which is the important part of the virus which enables it to enter and infect our cells.

Sharon Peacock, director of COG-UK, says “Mutations are expected and are a natural part of evolution. Many thousands of mutations have already arisen, and the vast majority have no effect on the virus but can be useful as a barcode to monitor outbreaks.”

Combinations of mutations at different sites on the coronavirus lead to different variants which have received names such as South African variant (B1.1.351), Brazilian variant (P1), Kent (or English)  variant (B.1.1.7), Indian variant (B1.617) – and even a Liverpool variant, all with particular names and codes.  This can get very confusing but there are three particular genetic mutations in the virus spike protein called E484K, K417N and N501Y which are of particular concern as they affect the ease with which the virus can bind to the ACE2 receptor on the surface of human cells. Changes in this part of spike protein may, in theory, result in the virus becoming more infectious and spreading more easily between people.  These mutations in the spike protein combined with other mutations have given rise to the variants listed above and no doubt will give rise to other variants in the future.

The important questions to ask of these variants are:

  • will they spread more quickly i.e. are these more contagious or transmissible
  • are they more dangerous i.e. are they more likely to cause serious illness or death
  • will vaccines still work against them.

Transmissibility

The whole reason for a virus’s existence is to reproduce, it has no reproduction mechanism of its own and needs to infect cells so that it can take over the cell’s reproduction mechanism to produce copies of itself; it therefore is under great evolutionary pressure to develop improved transmission from person to person.  Interestingly it is not under pressure to kill the person infected as you cannot transmit the virus so effectively if you are dead: as a result viruses as they evolve often become less deadly.  It is thought that the mutations to the spike proteins change the shape of the folded protein chain making it more open and better able to penetrate cell walls allowing the virus to enter the cell.  The new variants recently identified have improved transmission and therefore have become widely spread, becoming dominant strains.  The Kent variant for example is thought to be up to 70% more transmissible.  This is the reason for the extension to the “post Christmas lockdown” – the R rate of the virus has increased and needs stricter controls to prevent runaway growth in infections, swamping the health services etc. before the vaccination program has had time to take effect on the spread of the virus.

Dangerousness

Are the new coronavirus variants more dangerous than the original strain?  Probably not, if there is an effect at all it is small and has not been picked up strongly in epidemiology studies, for example the Kent variant although being more transmissible appears to be no worse than the original strain at causing hospital admissions.  As you might expect however this topic is currently being watched closely for all variants.

Will the vaccines still work?

The new variants have mutations to the spike protein that the three leading vaccines are targeting. However, vaccines produce antibodies against other regions in the spike protein also, so it’s unlikely that a single change would make the vaccine very much less effective.  There have been reports of reduced efficacy of vaccines against the newer variants; balanced against this the four laboratories in the UK who are working on evaluating the new variants against the current vaccines say that they are not seeing any strong evidence that the vaccines will be less effective.  Additionally the producers of the Pfizer Biontech and Moderna and the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine have recently stated that they believe their vaccines are equally as effective against the new UK strain.  This is a rapidly developing field of course as epidemiological data can only be collected as a larger statistical population people are vaccinated and available for study.  This means that much of the data on the performance of vaccines against the newer virus variants come from laboratory studies only.

Over time, as more mutations occur, the vaccines may need to be altered. This happens with seasonal flu, which mutates every year, and the vaccine is adjusted accordingly. The SARS-CoV-2 virus doesn’t mutate as quickly as the flu virus, and the vaccines that have so far proved effective in trials are types that can easily be modified if necessary.  The vaccines based on mRNA (e.g. Pfizer Biontech) should be particularly good at doing this quickly.  Work on modifying vaccines against the important spike protein mutations is progressing e.g. Oxford-Astrazeneca have already announced that they have developed an updated version of their vaccine which targets the significant mutated spike proteins and expect to have the modified vaccine available for the autumn when you might expect a resurgence of coronavirus infections similarly to the more common flu.

Interestingly through genetic engineering and computational biology science is now able to “evolve the virus” in the laboratory faster than nature.  There are two approaches; chemically modifying just free spike proteins in the lab and seeing how antibodies interact with them, and computer modelling to see how minor changes to the spike protein affects the way it folds and its subsequent shape.  Using these techniques one can predict what changes to the spike proteins may be dangerous and potentially develop vaccines to them before they occur naturally through virus evolution.  This is developing science which may be expected to drive vaccine development in the future.

More Coronavirus Background Information

We are being exposed to a huge amount of COVID-19 information on a daily basis and not all of it is reliable. Here are some tips taken from the World Health Organisation for telling the difference and stopping the spread of misinformation –

We want to understand the world around us and stay up to date: one of the ways we do this is by seeking out and sharing “information”, much of it from news articles and opinion pieces, messages from vloggers, bloggers, podcasts and social media perhaps shared by friends and family on social media or messaging apps.

Information is something which is accurate to the best of our current knowledge. For instance, COVID-19 stands for coronavirus disease 2019 and is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. One of the difficulties with any new pathogen, like this coronavirus, is that information changes over time as we learn more about the science.

Misinformation, on the other hand, is false information which was not created with the intention of hurting others.  Misinformation is often started by someone who genuinely wants to understand a topic and share information with others who feel the same.  Everyone believes they are sharing good information – but unfortunately, they are not, and depending on what is being shared, the misinformation can turn out to be harmful.  At the other end of the spectrum is disinformation.  Unlike misinformation, this is false information created with the intention of profiting from it or causing harm to a person, a group of people, an organization or even a country.  During this pandemic it can be used to erode our trust in each other and in government and public institutions.  There are seven steps you can take to navigate this wave of information and decide who and what to trust:

1. Assess the source

Who shared the information with you and where did they get it from?  Even if it is friends or family, you still need to vet their source: to check for social media accounts, look at how long profiles have been active, their number of followers and their most recent posts. For websites, check the “About Us” and “Contact Us” pages to look for background information and legitimate contact details.  When it comes to images or videos you can verify their authenticity.  For images, you can use reverse image search tools provided by Google and TinEye, for videos, you can use Amnesty International’s YouTube DatViewer, which extracts thumbnails that you can enter into reverse image search tools.  Other clues that a source may be unreliable or inaccurate include unprofessional visual design, poor spelling and grammar, or excessive use of capitals or exclamation marks.

2. Go beyond headlines

Headlines may be intentionally sensational or provocative to get high numbers of reads or clicks.  Read more than just the headline of an article – go further and look at the entire story.  Search more widely than social media for information – look at print sources such as newspapers and magazines, and digital sources such as podcasts and online news sites; best of all look at formal sites e.g. from the NHS, professional or academic bodies such as those listed in “More Coronavirus Background Information” below.  Diversifying your sources allows you to get a better picture of what is or is not trustworthy.

3. Identify the author

Search the author’s name online to see if they are real or credible.

4. Check the date

When you come across information, ask yourself these questions: Is this a recent story? Is it up to date and relevant to current events? Has a headline, image or statistic been used out of context?

5. Examine the supporting evidence

Credible stories back up their claims with facts – for example, quotes from experts or links to statistics or studies. Verify that experts are reliable and that links actually support the story.

6. Check your biases

We all have biases, and these factor into how we view what’s happening around us; you need to evaluate your own biases and why you may have been drawn to a particular headline or story.  What is your interpretation of it?  Why did you react to it that way?  Does it challenge your assumptions or tell you what you want to hear?  What did you learn about yourself from your interpretation or reaction?

7. Turn to fact-checkers

When in doubt, consult trusted fact-checking organizations such as Poynter International Fact Checking Network

Up to date government coronavirus information is available at https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/.  There is also a science organisation which provides science briefings for the media, https://www.sciencemediacentre.org which is good if you want to miss out “the middle-man “.

Corona Virus Tracking

Government NHS COVID-19 Tracking App

When the official UK Government tracker app was first evaluated significant problems were identified.  The development and use of similar apps has faced problems in other countries.  As a result  a “hybrid” app with some of the characteristics of the existing Google/Apple contact tracing app and the UK Government app was developed and launched in 24th Sept 2020.  It is compatible with most Apple and Android based smart phones, unless the models are too old and is downloadable from the Apple App Store or Google Play: the name of the app is “NHS Covid-19”.  At last count over 14 million people had downloaded it.

The App will:

  • tell you what is the risk level for Covid 19 for the area you live in (you need to put in a part post code to tell the app where you are)
  • scan for nearby phone using Bluetooth so that it can identify if you have been near anyone who also has the app installed and later reports symptoms
  • allows you to scan for QR codes at any restaurant, pub or similar venue which has the NHS QR code on display, this registers you as having been present to aid tracking if you, or anyone else at the venue at the same time, later develop coronavirus symptoms.  I think that having a QR code on display will be compulsory for “hospitality venues” soon.  Being able to scan the code should mean that you do not have to give your details manually to the venue.  I have seen a QR code notice recently in some non hospitality venues (e.g. Hartley’s Nurseries!) so it is worth keeping a look out for them.
  • allow you can check coronavirus symptoms, report if you have them and book a test if you do.
  • allow you to read the latest NHS coronavirus advice
  • enter any test results you have received, this will help the tracing of other contacts you might have had and alert them.

You can find more detailed information from the official NHS web site at https://www.covid19.nhs.uk/

COVID-19 Symptom Tracker (not the official NHS Covid-19 app)

  • Help slow the outbreak
  • Join millions of people helping to fight COVID-19
  • Help scientists identify high risk areas in the UK

The COVID Symptom Tracker was designed by doctors and scientists at King’s College London, Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals working in partnership with ZOE Global Ltd – a health science company. The Tracker is an app that runs on an iPhone or an Android phone, and by using this app you would be contributing to advancing research on COVID-19 by the Kings College team. The app will be used to study the symptoms of the virus and track how it spreads. For more information go to the COVID-19 Symptom Tracker website.

Other authoritative sources of Coronavirus Information

WHO

The WHO – not the rock band!  Confused by all the media reports on Covid-19, want to keep up to date on what is going on worldwide?  The World Health Organisation provides daily high quality scientific information in an easily understood format at

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports

“Advice to the Public” in the sidebar gives reliable information on e.g. masks, coronavirus myths etc.

CEBM - The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine

The CEBM has a useful Oxford COVID-19 Evidence Service giving rapid reviews of primary care questions relating to the coronavirus pandemic. It is updated regularly.

Coronavirus: the science explained

Coronavirus: the science explained is an authoritative website maintained by UKRI (UK Research & Innovation) the government organisation which funds much of the research work in UK universities.  You have paid for it so you might as well see what it is doing with your money!  The site lays out the evidence and the facts about the virus, the disease, the epidemic, and its control and is regularly updated with the latest science information behind the coronavirus pandemic.  If you keep up to date with this you will be better informed than the average television commentator or newspaper journalist.

Schedule for September enews

The August enews has now been emailed out to all current members of Aughton & Ormskirk U3A on Monday 31st August.  Unfortunately, if your membership has lapsed or you do not have an email address on the Beacon Membership System, you will not receive these monthly missives. Contact the Membership Team for advice on updating your record on this system.

The deadline for items for the next enews is 12noon on Monday 28 September (last Monday of the month). Please send your items before Noon on that day to the enews Editor.

If you have missed the enews deadline, and have some U3A content you would like to publicise in the meantime on this website, contact the Web Team. 

You can use the web forms for the Membership Team,  enews Editor and the Web Team on the Contact Us webpage to get in touch, selecting appropriately from the ‘drop-down list’ on the form as you fill it in.

Message from the Management Committee

ACTIVITIES BASED IN HIRED PREMISES     –    MINIMISING THE RISK

Prior to hiring rooms, the Premises providers will have certified that the premises are classed as ‘Covid-19 Secure’. The Premises providers will have provided a risk assessment confirming the steps taken to minimise the risk of transfer of Covid-19. However, while some of the actions are on the provider of the premises there are many actions required on the hirer and now figure in the terms and conditions of hiring.

CONSIDERATION FOR OTHERS

If you have any Covid-19 symptoms or have been advised to isolate, do not participate in U3A activities. If you are from a location known to be subject to special measures, do not participate in U3A activities. Your health and safety and that of other members are paramount.

Assuming the above does not exclude you from attending, please take note that the onus is on you to assess the risks associated with participating in the offered activities. The premises owners and your management team will have taken all reasonable steps to minimize threats to the wellbeing of members and communicate the good practice described here. However, the acceptance of risk is inevitably a personal matter.

By the way, the Third Age Trust advises that members avoid car sharing to and from activities.

CLEANSING

The premises will be cleaned by the premises provider at the start of each day but NOT between sessions. As a condition of the booking, any party hiring the premises must commit to themselves cleaning all surfaces with an appropriate household product. Typically, this means wiping chair frames (not fabric), tables, door handles window handles and toilets. The group leader will be responsible for supplying the cleaning products; with the cost covered from attendance fees.

If equipment is used, clean that equipment with an appropriate sanitizing product between sessions.

Keep the room well ventilated.

PERSONAL HYGIENE

Attendees are encouraged to clean hands with a sanitizer or soap/water prior to and throughout the session.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

Attendees must adhere to the Govt guidelines on social distancing. Ideally, a standard of 2 metres should be adopted. The room provider may assist in this matter by floor markings. Wherever practical, sit side-by-side rather than face-to-face. If 2 metres is not viable (e.g. card and board games), a distancing of 1+ metres must be adhered to and face masks must be worn throughout the session.

If the activity involves synchronized movement that may cause an individual to inadvertently move into the space of another individual, a social distance necessary to avoid inadvertently breaching the 2 metres must be adopted.

The premises management will have advised the maximum capacity of each available room. The Group Leader must ensure that the imposed maximum attendance is not breached. This could entail putting potential attendees on a rota or splitting a session.

Avoid congestion within corridors. The room provider may designate separate entrance and exit routes. These must be adhered to.

If the activity has recognized national guidelines (e.g. table tennis), comply with those guidelines.

CATERING

Excepting access to a sink, kitchen facilities will NOT be available. You must not touch the hall’s cutlery or crockery. Bring your own refreshments. Do not share refreshments or associated utensils.

GOVERNMENT ‘TEST AND TRACE’ SERVICE

Leaders must maintain an accurate register of attendees at each session and ensure that a contact telephone number is recorded on the register against each attendees’ name.

Leaders must retain the register and be prepared to pass the details of any specific session to the Secretary and to an agent of the Govt ‘Test and Trace’ service.

Derrick Fewings,
on behalf of the Management Committee

Message from the Chairman – August 2020

Many of you will be aware that a survey of Group Leaders and approx. three hundred members chosen at random has taken place.

This was undertaken to give the Committee an indication of member’s feelings with when our U3A activities should continue. The dates of 1st September, 1st October and 1st January 2021 were used as a time indicator rather than fixed proposals for reopening.

The results of the survey revealed a fifty-fifty split between October and January, but with the proviso “as soon as it is safe to do so”.

At a Zoom Management Committee meeting, on 10th August, the survey results were considered. It was also accepted that there are Covid-19 spikes in Preston, Greater Manchester and Liverpool at present. There is also speculation about whether or not the re-opening of schools etc. will affect the situation…

Given this scenario, and as the health and wellbeing of our members is our number one priority, the decision to restart our U3A activities was deferred until the New Year 2021.

The committee will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation and will take heed of Third Age Trust and Government advice, and will keep you informed of any progress that can be made.

This is of course disappointing to many of us, but it is better to be safe than be sorry.

Alan Starkie

Chairman

Aughton & Ormskirk U3A

Online Talks and Tours

A message from Pamela Ball, the Speaker Meeting Organiser, about Free Online Talks:

UK Tours Online are offering a number of online talks via Zoom which may be of interest to members. Most have to be paid for, but there will be a free one on Monday 7 September entitled Saints, murderers, heroes, crooks: the worst and best of British monarchs. Also on 25 August there will be a talk on Seven treasures of the British Museum – this one is available to us for a donation (you choose the amount) to Prostate Cancer UK. Register for either or both here (you will need to scroll through a bit!).

Shine a Light on Beacon

Still in the dark about the  U3A Beacon Membership System?  Then let the Membership Team enlighten you.

For example, among other things:

  • existing members can renew membership online
  • members can update their own personal details on the Beacon database (useful if you change your email address and still want to receive the enews and Management Committee communications)
  • group leaders can easily communicate with their group members via Beacon email

Chairman’s message about re-opening

Many members are asking questions about re-opening our U3A. The Management Committee has been actively discussing the situation and examining the latest Government rules. You can read the Chairman’s statement (sent to members in a special Beacon email on 3rd July) about the steps we are taking to ensure a safe continuation of our activities.

MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN

There have been many announcements from Government detailing when and under what conditions businesses can open from 4th July. As a result, many members have raised the question of when our U3A will be operational.

Government rules on how organisations such as ours can re-open have been examined and as a consequence, there are several steps we need to take in order for us to make it as safe as possible for us to start Group activities again.

There are obligations on the owners of venues that we use such as Scouts & Guides, Aughton Village Hall etc.
Before we can commit to using any facility, we must be sure that they have been deep cleaned and how they will conform to cleaning regulations.

These and a whole raft of other topics will need to be negotiated and agreed before we continue with our activities.

When we can eventually restart meetings, we should not expect things to continue as before the lockdown.

We shall have to plan and allocate where and when meetings can take place, taking into account the size of the group; how many people a facility can accommodate within distancing rules etc., and if the wearing of masks will be mandatory or not.

For example, face to face Groups such as Bridge under present rules will probably have to wear a mask for the duration of the meeting.

It is also more than likely that Horizons will not be reactivated for some time.

There are many more rules for the committee to consider before we can give the go ahead to continue with meetings and meet our friends again.

Uppermost in our thoughts is that, according to the scientists, our generation is identified as being very vulnerable to Covid-19 and we must take very cautious steps when moving forward.

Even when we can continue, every member must be responsible for their own health and safety and should bear this in mind before attending U3A meetings.

I hope that a successful vaccination against Covid-19 will be found and we will all be vaccinated, rules and regulations will no longer be needed and we will be able to freely meet again.

Until then we must cope with how things are.

The Committee will strive to restart our U3A and we will inform you when it is safe to do so.

Keep Safe; Keep Well

Alan Starkie
Chairman

Gardening Group-Garden Visits & Photos

Lockdown 2020

All meetings are currently postponed until further notice.


Hello Everyone. Helen here from the Gardening Group. I do hope that you are all staying safe and well and enjoying your garden or outdoor spaces. 

Garden visits

For anyone that hasn’t heard, the National Gardens Scheme have started garden openings with an online booking system for visits so that numbers are limited and social distancing can work. 

79 Crabtree Lane – which our group visited last year is opening this weekend – Sunday 5th, Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th.

Hazel wood  – which our group was due to visit this year is also opening this weekend – Saturday 4th, Sunday 5th and Monday 6th.

Just go online to ngs.org.uk and click on ‘book a visit’.

Photo gallery of our groups gardens .

Following on from the earlier success of the West Lancs in Bloom galleries on our U3A Website, the Web Team are wondering if Gardening Group members would be interested in a special gallery to add to our Group Page with recent pictures of your gardens?  West Lancs in Bloom was nearly exclusively Spring Blossom, so we were thinking of a gallery this time with a theme like Our Summer Gardens during Lockdown.

Contributions can be emailed as attachments to webteam@aughton-ormskirk-u3a.co.uk.  As the website is public, contributors should avoid the appearance in a photo of recognizable people or obtain permission from those appearing. Please provide suitable short captions for your photos and say whether you would like your name to be included or not.

Looking forward to seeing your lovely gardens. I’m amazed at how resilient many plants have been to the recent extremes of weather, gales, heatwave, drought and torrential rain ! 

Stay safe and healthy,

Pam & Helen

Creative Writing Group During Lockdown

When we heard that we’d no longer be able to meet up for our usual monthly sessions, the Creative Writing Group decided that we’d still like to write something every month and share it via email. We knew it wouldn’t be half as enjoyable as getting together but it was better than nothing. However, with the next ‘meeting’ several weeks away, someone suggested we created a WhatsApp group so we could keep in touch in the meantime. What a great idea! National lockdown was looming but we were prepared.

We’ve got to know each other surprisingly well. Through the WhatsApp chat we’ve heard snippets of lives past and seen present day photos from daily walks. We’ve even had the odd glimpse into each other’s homes via Zoom. Strangely, during this time apart, acquaintances are becoming firm friends.

One day, a bit of banter on WhatsApp sparked a couple of lines of fiction and everyone joined in adding their own couple of lines. Before we knew it we had a page-worth of words that could have been lifted from a spy novel. It was a bit of fun so we decided we’d have a proper go with a new story. We’ve written seven so far, including one round of poetry. The six of us keeping ourselves amused with these exercises are set in a new order every time and then write two or three paragraphs each, usually two rounds per story.

Follow this link to see our most recent creation!

With all of this, plus our short story competition entries, we’ve done more writing in the last three months than most of us ever do under normal circumstances and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of lockdown.