We meet on the third Thursday of each month at the Southcourt Community Centre, Prebendal Avenue, Aylesbury HP21 8LF starting from 1300hrs.  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.

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

8 September – Oceans Circulation in a Changing Climate

Ocean circulation in a changing climate – how small changes make big differences.  The oceans are vast, covering over 70% of the planet’s surface and contain 14 (followed by 17 zeros) tonnes of water.  Yet a small change of a fraction of a degree in temperature can reverse the way this gargantuan mass of water moves around our planet, effecting life on land as well as in the ocean itself.

This talk is free of charge.  Closing date for applications is Friday, 3rd September.

Oceans Circulation in a Changing Climate – Click here

Monday 13 September -Wildlife from Around the World

Tom Way last spoke to us in July and he was asked by most of those present to come back later in the autumn.  If you missed his last talk be sure not to miss this one.  You will see photographs of wild animals as you have never seen them before.  Tom has won many awards including European Wildlife Photographer of the Year and has received great acclaim for his presentations to many u3as as well as numerous other organisations.

Wildlife from Around the World – Click here

Friday 24 September – American Presidents – The mighty and the mediocre

At each inaugurations, US Presidents swear that they will “to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”

This talk will seek to explore how a selection of 20th and 21st Century Presidents have fulfilled, or failed to fulfil, that lofty ambition.

Mark Lovett is back by popular demand to share more of his expertise on American history.  There is no charge for the talk.

American Presidents – The mighty and the mediocre  – Click here

Thursday 7 October – Harvest Flowers – Talk & Demonstration

Katherine Kear is making a welcome return to TVN, this time to give us inspiration on flower arranging during the harvest season and using the wonderful colours of autumn. Those members who attended the event last April will remember that she is the National chairman of NAFAS  (National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies), a national speaker and teacher, publications on all things including myths, legends and folklore, so you may be sure the morning will be entertaining as well as instructive.

The cost of event is £1 per device.  Closing date for applications is Mondy 4 Ocstober

Harvest Flowers – Click here