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From the BROWNS BAY U3A President  

Welcome to our final meeting for 2018. The committee wish all members the best for your final Interest Group meetings and an enjoyable and safe Christmas and New Year celebrations with family and friends.
Last Month’s Speaker: Sir Richard Faull enthralled us with his talk “The Magic of the Human Brain.” Sir Richard is the Director of the Centre for Brain Research at the University of Auckland and is also a Co-Director of the Centre for Research Excellence “Brain Research New Zealand.” Working alongside community organisations these teams of leading neuroscientists and clinicians have undertaken ground-breaking research on the ageing-brain and age-related neurological disorders such as stroke, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease and sensory loss. The team were the first to identify that the adult human brain has the ability to create new cells. This is a great New Zealand story.
Lifelong well-being: This is what U3A is all about!
 “The UK Government’ Foresight Programme offers these five points for lifelong well-being:
1. Connect with people around you.
2. Be active – do physical activity that suits you best.
3. Be curious – watch for the beautiful and unusual.
4. Keep learning – anything. It might be a musical instrument, or how to cook.
5. Give – to a friend or stranger, volunteer.”
    Quoted from the NZ Herald Saturday 24th November 2018
Shared Christmas Lunch: Please bring a plate to share for the Christmas lunch at our meeting on December 4th. A third of last month’s attendees were nominated for something sweet, the rest savoury please. We cannot heat-up items.
New Special Interest Groups for 2019: Based on the suggestions given in the survey we are looking to set-up some new Special Interest Groups in 2019. Below is an interest form.
A sign-up sheet will also be available at the December meeting. We need 6-8 committed members to form a viable group. The members will decide the meeting times and venue that best suits them.
                                                                                                                 Glen Plaistowe


Active Travellers
Our presentation this month was given by Lucy Casey who spent three weeks travelling through Kruger National Park, South Africa, in August 2018. She presented maps of the park detailing the trip from north to south and photos of the rondavels (circular hut with thatched roof) that was their accommodation in most campsites.
There were lots of photos and videos of the ‘big’ five - Lions, Elephants, Rhinos, Buffalos and Leopards and other animals plus many beautiful birds. The two travellers booked everything themselves and self-drove around the park learning as they went what to do when faced with a herd of elephants! We also learned lots of facts about a variety of animals and birds. In particularly we loved the photos of the baby elephants and giraffes. Several photos showed the reality of life amongst animals in the wild - spotted hyenas, black-backed jackets and vultures cleaning up an elephant carcass that died of natural causes. It was amazing to see the number of different animals at waterholes and gain an understanding of the animal pecking order there!
Ancient Civilizations
Geoff and Anne showed a powerpoint presentation of their recent trip along the Silk Road in China. While they climbed the Great Wall, visited all the main ancient silk road towns and oases the only evidence of the silk road was in the museums. There were the remains of many Buddhist centres of worship in caves and temples some in very good condition even though they were about 1600 years old. A highlight was the mummified people in a museum in Urumqi which were up to 4000 years old.
Archaeology enjoyed an informal BBQ get together at the home of Peter and Natalie Dawson, lots of great food and conversation with those who were in town at the time!
Art History
This month our speaker was Helen who spoke on Berthe Morisot, she was a painter and a member of the circle of Painters in Paris who became known as the impressionists. Critics of her were quite a few, some for her being part of bourgeois society and some for being a female. She married Eugene Manet (brother of the Artist Manet). Eugene who was also an Artist gave up his career to devote himself to handle Berthe's submissions to impressionists and other exhibitions He was successful at this for those times. Lively discussion amongst the group ensued after talk and viewing her art online.
Book Group
Everyone talked about the books they have read recently and Monette produced an excellent cheesecake. Books discussed were: Last Letter from Istanbu by Lucy Foley; The Hush by John Hart; The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris; The Last Hours by Minette Walters; Clock Dance by Anne Tyler; Transcription by Kate Atkinson; City of Friends by Joanna Trollope; The Maid's Room by Fiona Mitchell; A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee; A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee; Dance of the Peacocks by James McNeish; The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George; 12 Rules for Life: an antidote to chaos by Jordan Peterson; Levi's War by Julie Thomas; The Other Wife by Michael Robothem; The Wife by Meg Wolitzer; The Sunday Girl by Pip Drysdale; The Ash Doll by James Hazel; Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry; A Double Life by Flynn Berry and A Simple Favour by Darcy Bell.
Books and Beyond
Heather Howarth led the discussion on authors who were skilled in describing characters to bring them to life. She used examples from Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy, who were especially mentioned as collecting ideas for characters in notes. Many other authors' examples were read. Members of the group had also been identifying this aspect in their reading and made relevant contributions to the discussion.
Classical Music
We listened to DVD of Il Viva at the Colosseum in Croatia. Then DVD Wild Life Symphony of classical music to scenes of animals, birds and nature. Very enjoyable.
Current Affairs
Heather Howarth discussed the falling standards in the media where contributors appear to be ruder and more aggressive, and in social platforms where anything goes. The group discussed the lowering of standards in society and the need for parents and educators to take a lead. Jon considered the growing threat of Chinese influence in the China sea, the Pacific and in New Zealand including the provision of loan finance.
Ambury Farm Park/Watercare Coastal Walk-Cycleway
14 keen cyclists explored this area on a perfect day, sun and no wind. We rode from Ambury Farm Park past the Mangere Wastewater Treatment Plant across to Puketutu Island where we could see through to Manukau Heads. Fish were jumping and birds were singing. Extensive planting has been done to rehabilitate this area, with great paths and some boardwalks. Turning back, we cycled around Mangere Lagoon back to the carpark. No coffee stops available so the intrepid band bought their own.
Français pour rire
Our final meeting was in November. Rosemary described a family holiday in South East France with photos and a bit of history. They were based in La Ciotat, a coastal town, 30kms east of Marseilles, and drove to a different area each day appreciating their hosts’ local knowledge. Places visited were Les Calanques (by boat from Cassis) show casing coastal inlets with steep limestone cliffs; the very high Gorges de Verdon with its turquoise water below; the mountain village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, famous for its Faience pottery; Gordes built on a rocky outcrop; and the Luberon valley famous for its vineyards.
Medical Science and History
This month our topic was glaucoma, the eye disease that gives no symptoms until damage to sight has already occurred. It was therefore stressed how important it was to have regular eye checks every 5 years from the age of 40 and every 3 years ( or more frequently) from the age of 60. Details of the disorder were presented along with current treatment and research. Other topics included a potential for a new antibiotic and a study that showed a link between changes in the retina and Alzheimer's disease.
Modern History
Dave initiated a discussion based on a Radio NZ interview between Kim Hill and Prof Anne-Marie Brady from Canterbury University who asserts that the Chinese Government has a strategy called “Magic Weapons” which it uses to influence public opinion in support of its “One Belt, One Road” philosophy. It is a long term, subtle and not so subtle programme. The talk generated lively discussion and a divergent range of opinions and prejudices.
Music -Mainly Classical
At our November meeting, Greta showed a movie of “The Greatest Showman”, a musical type life story of P. T. Barnham, who created the birth of Show Business. He also brought in the ‘forgotten’ people: dwarfs, bearded ladies, those with birth defects, and then created the first under-tent circus. He also created a “family” style that circus people still have. This was a little deviation from our usual Classic style.
Puzzles, Patterns & Paradoxes
This month 7 of our group visited the Escape Room in Takapuna as our Christmas treat. Working as a team we unlocked 9 different types of padlocks and solved many other problems to finally extricate ourselves from the room. Everyone had a great time and all contributions helped us to solve the puzzles and get out. A lunch at Aubergine, Takapuna, was a fitting reward for our achievements. See the photo on our U3A website:
Patricia gave us a talk illustrated by a Powerpoint presentation using paintings viewed at an exhibition last year at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney called “Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum”. In the 1600s the Dutch Republic was a prosperous trading nation and a major colonial power and this new prosperity was reflected in an explosion in Dutch art aimed at showing off the wealth of the new elite.
    Fay told us about The Holy Roman Empire which began in 800 AD with Charlemagne and ended in 1806 with Francis II. The Emperor was elected, eventually from 1356 by a college of 6 electors. Its history is complex and confusing, the territory it included was ever changing and its 'capital' varied depending on who was elected emperor. Originally the Emperor was crowned by the Pope, but this custom was abandoned. As Voltaire said: “Not Holy, Not Roman and Not an Empire”.