Odiham District

Home of the u3a covering Odiham, Hook and the surrounding villages

We run nearly 60 groups and monthly talks, fun trips and study days open to all of our over-700 members. Our members run:

  • Creative groups like Creative Writing or Drawing and Painting.
  • Activity-based groups like Pilates, Walking for Pleasure or Pickleball.
  • Discovery-based groups like Science and Technology or Environment and Climate Change.
  • Social groups like Bridge, Members on their Own or Wine Appreciation.
  • Literature groups like Play Reading or Book Groups.

Our members are either retired or are no longer in full-time employment and there is no lower age limit for membership. Our annual membership fee is £20. There may be an extra charge to cover room hire, or if a group uses an external teacher, etc. 

Croquet is back

After having been in hibernation over winter, our croquet groups are back.

There are two groups which meet weekly at
the Odiham and Greywell Cricket Club:

  • Tuesday 10 –12 pm
  • Wednesday 2—4pm

The Cricket Club mark out three courts for
us. There is a slope to the ground and although the grass is mowed every week, the surface is not equivalent to a professional court.

So if you take your croquet seriously, this may not be the group for you. Unless of course you enjoy having fun, laughing a lot and being out in the fresh air with a very nice group of people. And wielding a mallet with gusto!

No previous experience is necessary and all equipment is provided. Tea/coffee and biscuits are part of the package and the bar will be open from 12pm onwards.

If you feel this could be the activity for you, please contact me at newsletter@odihamu3a.org.uk.

Pam's corner - rhododendrons and azaleas, magnolias, daffodils, bluebells

Some of you will have been on outings with the Garden Appreciation Group. This year, the Group Leader, Pam Forey, can't run the group in the same way since she now has health problems which limit her.

So she has agreed to run "Pam's corner" each month where she will list details of a few local gardens that you might like to visit.

In the April edition, Pam lists gardens where you can see rhododendrons and azaleas, magnolias, daffodils and bluebells.

1st May : Unnatural selection. Katrina van Grouw

Katrina van Grouw is the author of The Unfeathered Bird and Unnatural Selection, is an experienced and highly qualified artist, a writer, and a self-taught fledgling scientist.

A former curator of bird collections at the British Natural History Museum, Katrina is now studying for a PhD in palaeo-ornithology at the University of Cambridge while working on two new books!

When Charles Darwin contemplated how best to introduce his controversial new theory of evolution to the general public, he chose to compare it with the selective breeding of domesticated animals. Katrina explains why this analogy was more appropriate than even Darwin had realised. Artificial selection is, in fact, more than just an analogy for natural selection – it’s the perfect example of evolution in action.

Creating Writing group 3 is now up and running

From Chris Harris, group lead:

This week we finally got our new creative writing group, Creative Writing 3, up and running and sat down to compare our work over coffee and biscuits at our initial meeting. The first exercise had been to write 500 words using the prompt "And so it begins."

The great thing about a diverse creative group such as ours is that you never quite know what will be submitted. We were not disappointed! Prickly subjects such as bereavement and the Palestine situation were included, as well as traumatic house moves and difficult relationships. Along with a good deal of chatting, all were discussed in the allotted 2-hour slot.

I am already looking forward to finding out what the members of Creative Writing 3 will come up with for next month's topic. Our first contribution is below.

The Bird Feeder

Mary settled down with a coffee and a digestive in her old armchair to watch the birds on her feeder. The variety of little visitors she saw through her window was the envy of her circle of friends. She regularly purchased bird food from the local garden centre. It was expensive, but she didn’t care; the birds depended on her.

As she dunked her digestive, she watched them establish the morning’s pecking order, the various tits having to wait until the playground bully, a single Robin, had finished feeding. Sipping her coffee in the warm sunshine, Mary opened her smartphone to check the headlines and read the latest about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. A grey squirrel paused to watch the feeding birds as he ran along the fence. Unseen by Mary, he rerouted, and, scattering the birds, quickly gained a purchase on their feeder. When Mary eventually looked up from her phone, their eyes met, and then it began…

Putting down her paper, Mary banged hard on the window. The squirrel paused impudently before retreating back to the fence “Those nuts are for the birds,” she shouted as she sat down again. The squirrel’s little brain, which had evolved over thousands of years, processed the situation with the speed of a supercomputer and decided to wait. Mary went back to the news. Eventually, the birds began to fly back to the feeder. For the squirrel, they were like a miner’s canary, so when they returned, he quickly followed. Frustrated, Mary pulled on her gardening shoes and went out to chase him off. He was back before she’d returned to her armchair. Her morning had been ruined.

Mary started buying other feeders, each more complicated than the last. The little squirrel’s supercomputer had an answer for them all. The birds now shunned her feeder, and she had to listen as her friends discussed the variety of feathered visitors in their gardens. How could that tiny brain outwit her? Mary’s husband had been checking the house- hold bills. “Whatever have you been buying at the garden centre?" he inquired. She agreed to cut back. Mary had just read how the US Congress was questioning more funding for Ukraine. The parallel was obvious, and she named the squirrel "Putin.”

Mary’s teenaged son David became amused by ‘Putin the squirrel’ and designed a solution. He stretched a wire from tree to house, with the birdfeeder hanging near the house. He then hung another feeder on a length of stretchy elastic attached to the same wire but nearer to the tree. The squirrel now chose the feeder nearest the tree, but each time he climbed onto it, the elastic stretched under his weight, causing him to scramble back up. Somehow he never thought to go on to the next feeder; his supercomputer remained in a programming loop. The little birds happily returned to their feeder, ignoring the action on the other feeder.

However, another pair of eyes began to watch. Next-door’s tabby had stationed herself underneath. Her brain had also made some calculations.