Celebrating the life skills and wisdom of ‘old people’

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Columnist Caroline Green takes tea at the Bath House with the group’s gardening club.

However, onwards and upwards! It was most appropriate that I pay a visit to two particular groups in the height of the gardening and travel season.

Although the weather has been very up and down this summer, a bit like the politics, it was the most beautiful sunny day when I joined Gardening Group 2 at The Bath House in Millennium Gardens, on Westgate by the river in Wetherby.

It was a very special occasion as we were meeting for afternoon tea organised by their Group Leader, Joan Woodhall.

Blossom was falling as we gathered in the beautifully kept gardens to chat and enjoy the surroundings before tea. It’s one of the most beautiful, safe and attractive places to meet for a picnic, perfect for children, as its very safe with no access to the river, maintained by Wetherby in Bloom.

The Bath House, which is maintained by Wetherby Town Council, is intimate and a perfect place for a special occasion.

We enjoyed a delicious tea, a thank you from Joan to all the members. So successful, there was a suggestion that it become an annual event, with contributions by all the members.

Gardening Group 2 has been in existence for five years and has 27 members who meet on the first Monday of each month, usually in each other’s gardens in the summer months.

Over the winter they join with Garden Group 1 and arrange a speaker. It was a very happy afternoon and it was lovely to spend time with likeminded people, who all love their gardens. Thank you to everyone for making me most welcome.

At Travel Talks Group I was transported from Wetherby to Eastern Europe as we heard about the travels of one of its members, David Monkman, to Moldova, Transnistria and in Romania the Bucovina.

Although I’ve visited other parts of Eastern Europe, this was a new adventure for me seen through someone else’s eyes. I discovered that members volunteer to give talks about their recent travels, meeting up once a month in St James Church Rooms.

Glenys Pengilley and Rob Sharpe, joint Group Leaders, met at the first U3A meeting six years ago and started the group immediately. They are both inveterate travellers so what would be better than sharing their own travels and learning about new places. It’s not just about the places either; there are tips, hints and advice on insurance, travel companies, airlines, hotels and travelling alone, which are all as important as the journey.

Every so often the focus of the meeting is on information, where all the members bring along travel brochures and a general discussion is held on places people have visited or wish to visit. This is a very supportive and informative group.

However, I digress - back to Romania. We learned about the politics, history, geography, geology and agriculture of the region and got a real feel for the countries, their traditions, and their past and discovered how their exports are mainly directed towards Russia.

In fact one of the most famous, the Moldovan Cricova wine cellars, housed in an old limestone cellar, converted in the 1950’s, boasts 75 miles of underground storage for 1.25 million bottles of wine.

We learned of a country, Transnistria, which is not recognised even though it declared Independence in 1991. It was fascinating insight into a region which is slowly opening up to the West.

There were two other events this summer. The AGM, where we were delightfully entertained by George and Sue and their accordion playing and a thank you lunch for group leaders where we received a wonderful lunch made by the U3A Catering Team.

Nothing is forgotten in this U3A, and it’s all down to the time, talent and skills of its ‘old’ people!

If you would like to know more about Wetherby and District U3A please visit the website www.wetherbyu3a.org.uk

* What are your views on being ‘old’. Does it inhibit your life or do you embrace it and how? Write to: news@wetherbynews.co.uk