Meetings are currently held remotely via Zoom, but we are “going live” in the Autumn. 

If you need advice or help to install or use zoom please contact our Gadget Group Leader Simon Reeks who will be happy to help you Tel: 07449 333296.  There is also a “help” item in the Notices page.

We usually meet on the third Thursday of each month at the Southcourt Community Centre, Prebendal Avenue, Aylesbury HP21 8LF.  Meetings begin with a brief welcome and introduction from the Chair followed by the opportunity to talk to friends and make new acquaintances.  This is followed by a refreshments break that also provides the opportunity for members to meet Group Leaders to find out more about their activities.  Members can also sign up for regular outings and holidays organised by the Travel Team.

The meetings continue with a presentation by invited speakers on a wide variety of topics.

Dates of forthcoming meetings and speakers are listed below.

15 July  at 2pm Paul Ranford – Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo was a designer of war machines, an architect, an engineer, a sculptor and a painter.  This talk is based mainly on Leonardo’s notebooks and reveals the extent of his achievements in the sciences and the arts. 1 hour talk by Paul Ranford.

19th August Saffron Summerfield – When Birds Sing
Illustrated talk with recordings of bird son, Sonograms and new music.  Showing how birds sing, with latest scientific research. Just why does a small bird (Marsh Warbler) ‘collect’ up to 250 other bird songs and calls on its
migratory path from Africa to northern Europe? How can a tiny bird like our wren sing 25 notes a second. What is happening inside a bird’s brain when it sings. Why does the Dawn Chorus have such an emotional and calming effect on some humans?  How birds have inspired composers, poets, writers and artists for thousands of years?
What did Mozart learn from his pet starling? Can include tips on how to identify birdsong in your garden and parks.

16th September Tony Earl – The Charity Shop

Tony has been in and out of charity shops, not knowing what he was looking for but knowing when he sees it. The talk looks at the history of the shops. He talks about what he looks for. The talk includes some examples and information on those overlooked ‘Treasures’. Audience Participation

21st October Paul Barwick – The Mysterious death of M16 spy and code breaker Gareth Williams in 2010
His body was found unclothed, inside a locked sports bag placed inside his bath in his flat. Who would want to kill this mild-mannered geek? This presentation delves beneath the sensational media headlines, into Gareth’s world of espionage, denial, and treachery. We trace Gareth’s life from a young boy with enormous mental capacity to the man who may of know too much!

18th November David Gedye  – Bringing the Monkey Puzzle Tree to Europe – The True Story
During David’s research into the earliest Monkey Puzzle trees grown in the British Isles, he came to realise that much that has been written about the tree’s introduction was misleading and inaccurate. Menzies is rightly credited with introducing the first living trees into Europe, but much of the story of how he did so has become embroiled in myth. In this illustrated talk. He outlines the truth behind the tree’s introduction into Europe covering the Dutch and Spanish attempts to introduce the tree, the roles of Achibald Menzies, Glasgow Botanic Garden, James Macrae and the Veitch nursery, and their plan collector William Lobb. He uncovers the truth behind the myths and set the record straight.

16th December The Bob and Dot Show
Dot sings live and Bob plays original recordings from the golden era of music on a 1933 HMV

20th January  -Jeremy Holmes – Shakespeare’s Lost Women
Woman being lost and found (or brought back to life) is a major theme of Shakespeare’s late plays, but there are other women in both the comedies and tragedies who go through something similar. This talk explores this important theme, including the several “illusory” deaths, and what it means for characters discovery and self-discovery, both men and women.

17th February – Alison Wall – Pest Houses
The talk lasts approximately an hour. Alison Wall explains how health beliefs have changed over the centuries and
why pest houses were set up in every parish from 1665. Charles II issued an edict in 1665, stipulating that every parish must identify a pest house for isolation of those with the pestilence. She shows pictures of the houses that still exist and those that have been demolished. 

16th March  – James Redden – Journey with Ferocious Gods
In May 2018 James Redden joined a team of 5 to ski across the barren icecap of Greenland. Setting off in what can only be described as balmy conditions, they had no idea of the trials to come. Lashed by raging storms in which winds gusted to over 100 mph and in temperatures of -40 C, our expedition faltered and at times came close to failure. And death. Many lessons were learned on that journey and James weaves each into tale of survival, fear and triumph.

21st April – Jonathan Jones –
The Role of the Town Crier – Something to Shout About
He will come in full regalia and end the talk with a Shout!

19th May – Nick Dobson – An underground Guide to Historical London
A virtual tour of London by tube, stopping off to look at places of historical interest.

16th June Steve Bacon of Live’n History
Medieval Surgery
In this talk Steve explains the theory of the four humours that underpins Medieval medicine and demonstrates the skill of the surgeon. We have live leeches to add the eeeek factor and museum quality equipment. While it is not possible for these sessions to be too ‘hands on’ – or should that be ‘hands off’?- audience participation is encouraged where a vict …oops!… volunteer is called for and questions are answered with relish – or is that just fake blood?

21st July  – Tony Eaton – Windsor and the Nazis Traitor or Duped
The Duke of Windsor’s wartime dealings with the Nazis is one of the Royal Family’s most closely guarded secrets. Sensitive records remain embargoed- protected by the 100-year non-disclosure rule accorded, uniquely, to the royal archives. However, declassified German files strongly suggest that when his country was facing its greatest crisis, the Duke was pursuing personal and political agendas totally at odds with Britain’s war objectives. Was this deliberate or was he being manipulated – a pawn caught up in a much wider game? In this new talk, Tony Eaton assesses the facts and the rumours surrounding this hidden part of British history.

18th August – Roger Mason –
Robert Maxwell: did He Fall or Was He Pushed?
Robert Maxwell was born in great poverty in Eastern Europe. He became a British Member of Parliament and a very rich and controversial businessman. He committed massive frauds and robbed his companies’ pension funds. Shortly before the discovery of the frauds he fell from his yacht and drowned. Was this an accident, was it murder or was it suicide? The lecture gives an account of his life and frauds, and tries to answer the question posed in the title.

21 September – Eve Bacon of Live’n History
Spices and Medieval Society
Eve has a passion for spices that were used in the past. She explains where the Medieval person thought they came from and how they illustrated Society.

20th October  -Tony Ring –  Wit, Wisdom and Lyrics of PG Wodehouse
Tony likes to include a section about Wodehouse in the theatre – including musical theatre – as it is an area of his work which is not as well known as it should be. (In 1917 he had lyrics in five new shows appearing on Broadway simultaneously, a record which it is believed has still not been equalled; while in 1928, he was co-author of three new straight (ie non-musical) plays appearing simultaneously in the West End of London.) Some audience participation.

17th November  -Adam Smith – Travelling England with John Byng
In the 1780’s and 1790’s John Byng (1743-1813) had an annual holiday travelling in England. We will look at extracts from the journals he kept to entertain his family on his return from those trips.

15th December  -Jonathan Jones – Christmas Cracker
A miscellany of prose & poetry for the festive season

u3a Thames Valley Network Events

Tuesday 6th July at 10.30 on Zoom – The Job of a Laughtime

Brad Ashton is an accomplished writer who has worked in comedy for half a century, writing top TV comedy shows in eleven different countries.  In this presentation he will recall the fun he had writing scripts for leading British comedians including Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson, Dick Emery, Frankie Howerd, Bruce Forsyth, Hylda Baker, Hattie Jacques, David Frost and Bob Monkhouse.  The talk contains many humorous backstage stories with some startling surprises.

Cost for the talk if £1 per device.  Closing date for applications is Friday, 2nd July

The Job of a Laughtime 

Monday, 12 July at 2.30pm on Zoom – Art as Therapy

Lizzy Rowe is an art historian who studied at the Courtauld Institute in London before joining English Heritage as a guidebook editor.  She currently lives in Oxford where she teaches Art History, as well as giving guided tours and talks. She is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic speaker on a wide variety of related subjects.  On her topic of ‘Art as Therapy’ she will share with us her delight in a range of images, all of which cause pleasure and may lift us above the more mundane aspects of life.  The talk is lavishly illustrated.  Some of the pictures will be familiar, others will widen our horizons.  Lizzy will be happy to answer questions at the end of the talk.

Cost of the talk is £1 per device.  Closing date for applications is Thursday, 8th July

Art as Therapy 

Tuesday 20 July at 10.30 on Zoom – Wildlife on your Doorstep

Tom Way is a brilliant young photographer who has won many awards including European Wildlife Photographer of the Year.  He has already won great acclaim for his presentations to many u3as as well as numerous other organisations.  He travels all over the world capturing wonderful images of tigers, lions and elephants.  In this talk he emphasizes all the fantastic wildlife there is to see and photograph right here on our doorsteps, from deer to hedgehogs and from owls to foxes.  He will not only show you his wildlife images from our local area but also describe the stories behind how he took them.  He will also branch out to talk about our coastlines and more northerly areas of the UK.  His head-on image of a puffin about to land is a particular favourite.  His talk will appeal both to photographers and wildlife enthusiast and is one not to be missed.

We can’t show any of his images here for copyright reasons but you an check out his website at

Cost for the talk is £1 per devise.  Closing date for applications is Friday, 16 July

Wildlife on your Doorstep

Wednesday 28 July at 3pm on Zoom – Designing and Building a Garden

Richard Rogers is an award winning garden designer with a studio based in Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire.  He trained at the acclaimed  London College of Garden Design based at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  He graduated with distinction and won the external judges prize for the best final project.  His talk will look at the process of designing and building a garden to show you what is involved.

Cost of the talk is £1.50 per device.  Closing date for applications is Monday 25 July

Designing and Building a Garden