With the ongoing emergence from the restrictions of the pandemic, Crickhowell and District U3A has expanded activities for members by staging opera evenings In the Clarence Hall and with the creation of a new Special Interest Group which organises day trips.

Chairman Gwen Axford was pleased with the response to this week’s first opera film showing which was free to members and only £5 to other attendees.

Mozart’s comic opera Cosi Fan Tutte, in its full version, was the first work featured and more evenings are planned.

The Day Trips group paid a visit to the beautiful location of Hellens Manor near Much Marcle - a house with a history stretching back to before the Norman Conquest.

We were fortunate to have a most informative, and often amusing, commentary on the house’s past by its General Manager Justine Preberdy who actually lives there.

The wealth of artwork on show in the house was quite remarkable as were the examples of embroidery created by local craftswomen. In a nice touch, unlike on many tours, visitors were invited to sit on some of the valuable items of furniture.

Hellens’ past included ownership by the future King Harold, and by William the Conqueror, the involvement of the Norman Marcher Lords and military assault during the English Civil War. Justine also alluded to the sometimes eccentric behaviour of certain owners in more recent times. The afternoon concluded with an excellent tea and home-made cakes, courtesy of cook Sam, enjoyed in the lovely surroundings of the gardens. The next proposed daytrip will be a guided tour of Blaenavon North Street Ironworks in early August.

Membership of the U3A is only £15 annually which allows its members to join groups offering a wide range of activities aimed at retired and semi-retired people.