Cycling Group inaugural ride

On Wednesday 14th April we had the group’s first ride, just a short one to start with, Milford Station to Hambledon Village and back via Witley and Enton.

The Cycling Group stops for coffee
The group stops for coffee at the village shop

We had a successful and enjoyable inaugural ride with a small but perfectly formed group. Nobody came off and nobody got run over, picture above. Even the sun was out – sort of. There were five of us at the start but for various reasons only three made it through to the finish – Gurtrud Sollers.

Our next ride will be on Monday 26th April, a short tour around Rodborough Common, starting and ending at Squires Garden Centre.

Baby Boomer Radio

How many of our U3A members would be considered to be Baby Boomers (born 1946-63)? How many of those have, like a number of media writers, become disenchanted with the program content of BBC Radio 2? I have read several articles recently, all complaining that Radio 2 is now aimed at an audience with an age range of 18-30 and that the Baby Boomers are being ignored.

I have to say that I agree and now rarely listen to the babbling on Radio 2. What is the option I hear you ask? On Friday 19th Feb I read a piece extolling the virtues of Boom Radio, aimed squarely at our age group. Launched only recently there are some rough edges but the music selection played leaves Radio 2 out in the cold! Only available on DAB in some big cities at present so why not listen on-line using a computer, tablet, laptop or smart phone? Here is just one independent review on the Radio Today website.

Murphy’s Law

We’ve all heard of ‘Murphy’s Law’ which, in it’s most basic form, is: “If a thing can got wrong, it will”. A slightly more specific version runs “If a thing can go wrong, it will – during the demonstration”. I’ve know the first version since I started work in electronic engineering in the 60’s. During my first trip to the USA in 1973 I spotted an article in an engineering magazine that expanded that law in so far as it affects engineering. It is somewhat dated now and rather biased to electronic engineering but it is nevertheless very accurate and quite amusing. I particularly like clauses 2.6, 4.7, 4.13, 4.32 & 4.33 and 5.6. Read the whole document here:

‘The Contributions of Edsel Murphy to the Understanding of the Behaviour of Inanimate Objects’

Charging your phone

Most smartphones these days are charged via the ubiquitous Micro USB connector, but did you know there is another way?
My wife and I both have Samsung Galaxy phones and we’ve had some trouble getting the phones to charge reliably and the reason is not the phone but the USB cable. We find that after a while the cable no longer makes reliable contact with the phone socket and you need a new cable. The other sign of trouble is where you have a Fast Charger with your phone, this works well, charging your phone much faster than a standard charger – until the cable begins to fail when first the charger won’t work at the ‘Fast’ rate and then unreliably at the standard rate – all very frustrating!

Step forward wireless charging. Many modern phones can be charged wirelessly using a special base unit and this is what we have adopted. The basic charger looks like this and plugs into a standard phone charger.

The phone(s) simply sit on top, no connection needed! This means no more failing Micro USB connectors and less wear and tear on the phone’s socket. This unit will charge two phones at once.

Phone on the charger
one phone on charge

Highly recommended! But check to see that your phone supports wireless charging before splashing out. The charger shown cost me £21.

Digital Technology Support

A few of the members of Mike Blewett’s former ‘Linux’ and ‘GIMP’ groups (that are no more due to Mike’s retirement) thought we ought to have group that appealed not only to Milford’s computer Nerds but also to any and all members that had a technology problem they couldn’t solve. Covid 19 hasn’t helped us get this going as we can’t meet so we’ve had to think laterally!

We are pleased to announce the formation of the Digital Workshop group, starting with about 30 interested members, of whom some seven are putting themselves forward as ‘experts’, or at least fairly experienced in one or more technologies. We hope eventually to have real meetings for our members to get together and chat over coffee, a place were we can welcome those less experienced to bring in their problems. Until that happy day we are limited to what we can achieve on-line, more on this below.

When we say ‘Technology’ we are mainly thinking of problems with computers, software, laptops, tablets and smartphones, so, ask and we will see what we can do to help. But don’t let this list limit you! I know we all have lots of experience in different areas (eg photography) and I’m sure there is more squirrelled away amongst the general membership, perhaps we can tap into that too.

As a part of the new website we have included a Forum where registered members can post problems or ‘how do I’ questions about technology which, hopefully, one of our experts or other members can answer or advise. We can also set up private Zoom calls if required and offer remote control services using a tool called TeamViewer.

Before I close I’d like to propose a huge Vote of Thanks to Mike Blewett who has helped quite a few members move on to Linux from Windows and also learn how to do some clever editing of photographs and other images.

Thanks for taking the time to read this far, The Tech Team

Cycling Group

We are pleased to announce the formation of a new Cycling Group for Milford & District U3A. Seven of the nine interested members met on 21st Jan using Zoom to consider the idea and it’s implications.

As we can’t actually go cycling under the current Covid 19 rules, all the activity for now will comprise electing a co-ordinator, comparing notes on cycles, equipment, car transport; and planning some initial easy routes so as to break ourselves in on comparatively level local roads.

At present the group is fairly evenly split between standard pedal and electric bikes and novice to medium experience riders. None of us consider ourselves speed freaks or champion hill climb competitors! We don’t expect to get out on any rides until the rules are relaxed but we are hoping for April, perhaps May at the latest. A couple of potential (level) routes of amore ambitious for the summer were suggested: Chichester to the Coast and the some or all of the Coast path from Worthing to Brighton.

Interested in joining us? If we get more members we could split into different riding groups such as ‘road/off-road’, ‘pedal/electric’, ‘experienced/non-experienced’. In the first instance please contact secretary@milford-u3a.org.uk or beacon-admin@milford-u3a.org.uk with the subject ‘Cycle Group’.

Christmas Concerts

Christmas online Concert lInks
{ a mixture of free and ticketed concerts}

Read More

Guildford WEA Courses

The Guildford branch of WEA has asked us to let you know of some online courses they are running that might be of interest.

Lockdown Nature Notes 6

Despite the cooler, greyer and, sometimes, wetter weather of last week, spring marched on. Subtle changes are being made to the overall picture – Cow Parsley has come to the fore and is frothing generously along many roadsides, Ox-eye Daisies have started to appear as have wild Lupins, Changing Forget-me-not, Lesser Stitchwort, Hedge Cranesbill and the delightful, lemon yellow, Mouse-ear Hawkweed. In the woodland, the first delicate flowers and leaves of Pignut have emerged. There is still a lot of Greater Celandine to be seen but Lesser Celandine has all but disappeared now as have Wood Anemones and Moschatel.  Here and there you can find some of the spring fungi. Right on cue (23rd April) St George’s Mushrooms arrived; the most noticeable feature of this species is the strong, mealy, smell.

On one of the wetter days last week I found a single Welsh Poppy flower. It must have been a garden escape but what interested me was that it was growing between the pavement and a railway bridge where there wasn’t any apparent sustenance for it and this got me thinking about plants that push their way determinedly through tarmac or grow in other inhospitable places like walls.  Yes, of course there is earth somewhere, but think of the tenacity needed for those plants to grow and flower in such difficult places. Start looking at walls and you will find many unexpected plants – in my garden there was a Sweet Violet growing about 3 metres up in the bricks. Dandelions, Yellow Corydalis, Ivy-leaved Toadflax, Ferns, Brambles, Liverworts, Mosses and Lichens, even tree saplings, all seem to be able to thrive in what, to us, look like impossible conditions.

At Witley, the Nightingales (possibly 3 or 4) are singing well and the Garden Warblers have arrived. So, now begins the perennial problem of distinguishing their song from that of the Blackcap. Currently the differences are quite marked, but later in the season, both species seem to relax and to take on parts of each other’s tunes, which totally confuses those of us who thought we’d at last cracked the problem. At the moment the Blackcaps have loud, confident voices, their notes are clipped and their vowels are rounded, rather like the newscasters of the 1940s and ‘50s only more melodic. The Garden Warblers on the other hand, have some exquisite gossip to share and it’s so exciting that they are falling over themselves to tell you the details. Their words run into each other, they don’t pause for breath, and even if you put the phone down and went to make a cup of tea, they’d carry on without bothering to find out if you were still listening. Some people liken the song to a babbling brook or continuously rushing water but to me it sounds like scurrilous prattle. Listen carefully though, and by the end of summer the Blackcap will be slurring its words and the Garden Warbler will be slowing down, more cautious in what it says, maybe becoming aware of the possibility of being sued for slander. On Sunday I heard and saw a lone Swift wheeling above the garden – at last! But it was only one and I was beginning to fear that they might have been affected by the storms in early April which hit Greece just as the migration was in full swing. However, today there were four screeching overhead so, thankfully, numbers are building up!

Sunshine and warmth is promised for this week – until the weekend when it sounds as though we’re in for a couple of very cold days but at least it will remain dry – well, that’s what they’re saying at the moment…