Set out below are the details of over 200 courses available at the REC delivered by expert tutors. Search for a course that meets your needs by title, subject, tutor, day or term. Further details of our tutors together with which courses they are running can also be obtained here.

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Exploring the History of Footpaths
Start Date: 15th July 2021
Footpaths and bridleways crisscross our countryside. Some lead us to the next village, some a church, others mysteriously end in the middle of a field, but all of them mark routes across the land used by generations before us and enshrined in rights. This morning will examine how and why they came into being, what we can and can’t do on them, and how to find out where they are. An ideal morning for those who have spent lockdown traversing these ancient rights of way.
Homer's Iliad and Odyssey
Start Date: 15th July 2021
The Iliad and the Odyssey are both tremendously exciting epics in their own right, focussing as they do on the heroes Achilles and Odysseus. These two ancient poems, composed initially for live oral performance, continue to engage and inspire people of all ages and backgrounds. No previous knowledge is required, but will, of course, be welcomed.
Why It's Hard being a Butterfly
Start Date: 15th July 2021
Male butterflies have it easy, but the females are egg-laying machines, working against the clock to get the next generation off to a good start. And the plants she’s looking for have defences which make her job even harder.
Exploring Hedgerows
Start Date: 22nd July 2021
Forming a haven for flora and fauna and a repository of history, hedgerows mark out a pleasingly aesthetic pattern across our rural landscape. But why are they there and when did they arrive? Who planned and planted them, and who protects them from destruction? And is it true that counting the species can date a hedge? A morning exploring the history of the iconic hedgerow!
The Speed of Light
Start Date: 22nd July 2021
It was only a matter of time before an aircraft exceeded the speed of sound, but the speed of light is something else altogether. Why is the speed of light the Universe’s speed limit rather than just another engineering challenge?
Lipreading Taster Course
Start Date: 22nd July 2021
Hearing loss can be devastating, it can lead to isolation as communication becomes difficult. This 1 week Lipreading taster course, gives you a start in your lipreading journey, allowing you to begin to recognise what you already know, to give you some coping tactics, to meet others in the same position and share experiences.
The Emperor Nero
Start Date: 24th July 2021
This is a repeat of the course in January as The British Museum is now planning to run their exhibition on the Emperor Nero from May to October 2021.  This course is intended as preparation or follow up for those who intend to go along.
Marie Curie
Start Date: 29th July 2021
At the end of the 19th century, research in Physics and Chemistry was dominated by men, yet Marie Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the first (and only) woman to win a second Nobel Prize. Known throughout the scientific world as Madame Curie, she was the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris in 1906.
Bridge for Beginners
Start Date: 2nd August 2021
This 4-session taster course is designed for those who have played little or no bridge before. At the end of the four sessions, you should be confident to play a sociable game of bridge. You may have met others with whom you would like to continue playing. Or you may wish to learn more here at the REC.
Edgar Degas
Start Date: 2nd August 2021
This three-day course will provide an introduction to Degas’ life and work. The painter is most associated with dance-the subject of over half his paintings-but he also portrayed milliners, laundresses and the less genteel side of Parisian life. Degas was a sculptor too and one of his most famous pieces is Little Dancer of 14 Years. New research has revealed the fascinating back story of this art work so why not come along and find out what it is.
Beneath our Feet: The Archaeology of Bedford
Start Date: 2nd August 2021
Bedford is an archaeologically rich, but often much overlooked town. In this course, we will look at the material evidence of ancient Bedfordians, through its sites, objects and topography. Analysing new archaeological evidence from recent excavations, we will consider the archaeology that lies below all of our feet.
Worldly Women: Female Explorers and Travellers from the 16th century to the 19th
Start Date: 2nd August 2021
Celebrating the incredible diversity and achievements of centuries of women who broke free of convention to straddle the world by foot, bicycle, ship and even camel! Armed with easels and writing paper, archaeological trowels and collectors ‘reticules’ they followed their dreams through deserts and over mountains.
Art and Architecture of Ancient Athens
Start Date: 2nd August 2021
Much of the art and architecture of Ancient Athens can still be seen, either in the modern city of Athens, or in museums world wide. In this course we shall explore architecture, sculpture and painted vases, mainly from the 5th and 4th century BCE.
Classical Physics and Quantum Physics
Start Date: 2nd August 2021
Galileo and Newton laid the groundwork for a coherent understanding of Classical Mechanics, paving the way to a predictable universe based on unassailable laws. Then, in the early 20th century, probability exploded onto the scene. This course, for the mathematically-innocent, will give you a flavour of the weird logic that governs the behaviour of light and matter at the sub-atomic level, and has given us the Modern World.
Urban Sketching
Start Date: 2nd August 2021
The participants will develop skills to be able to work from the local environment in sketchbooks using a variety of graphic media such as; pen and ink, marker pens, water colour, graphite pencils, charcoal or pastels.  Each session, participants will spend the session working outside investigating local viewpoints using their chosen medium. Robert is an experienced artist with over 40 years teaching experience.
Fish with Legs: How the vertebrates invaded the land
Start Date: 5th August 2021
The fish which lived in Devonian times are the ancestors of all the animals with backbones alive today, including ourselves and the now-extinct dinosaurs. How did a fish leave the water? Why would it want to? The emergence of the land vertebrates was a major transition in the story of evolution.
Composition and Why it Matters
Start Date: 9th August 2021
The underlying arrangement of the shapes in a piece of visual art is crucial to the mood it conveys. We will look at three types of composition and we will apply what we find to small paper collages. This course is for anyone who has wondered why some paintings work better than others.
An Introduction to the Art of Edward Hopper
Start Date: 9th August 2021
Edward Hopper’s paintings have been described as ‘portraits of loneliness’, but they are much more than that. Someone once described them as ‘boredom made luminous’. This three day course will look at how Hopper became an artist, his stormy relationship with his wife Jo and some recurring features of his paintings which show him to be more of a modernist than the realist he is often claimed to be.
Travellers in an Ancient Land: The Explorers and Antiquarians who discovered Britain
Start Date: 9th August 2021
Antiquarians, historians and geographers of the 17th-19th centuries traversed the nation recording relicts of ancient cultures and ‘rediscovering’ the history of England.  We will follow them on journeys ranging from the marshes of Essex, to the ‘English Alps’ of the Lake District, and puzzle over the mystery that was Stonehenge.
Robert Bloomfield and Labouring Class Poetry
Start Date: 9th August 2021
In this course we look at the work of Robert Bloomfield (1766-1823), who died at Shefford, and is regarded as one of the leading labouring class poets who became popular in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These were self-taught writers whose work reflected the reality of rural life. Others we will look at are Stephen Duck, Mary Collier and John Clare.
Potpourri of Birds
Start Date: 9th August 2021
These 3 sessions are made up of the highlights of the 2 winters course for anyone who missed them or wants a refresher. We look in more detail at some familiar species chosen by students, and look at ecology, adaptations and cultural connections for several fascinating species: from Robins to Puffins and Blackbirds to owls.
Central Geotrail - Field Trip
Start Date: 11th August 2021
A walk around the middle of Greensand Country. A steady walk along public footpaths takes in the spectacular views of Greensand Country across the Flit valley and through the heart of Bedfordshire that have been shaped by the Ice Ages.
Plant Defences
Start Date: 12th August 2021
Plants form the base of the food chain. All animals either eat plants or animals which have eaten plants. Plants have had to evolve ways of defending themselves, and the spines on Cacti are merely the most obvious example of this. Be prepared to marvel at what Nature has come up with in the battle to persuade animals to move on.
Colour Harmony in Painting
Start Date: 16th August 2021
Learn to make more conscious colour choices in your paintings through an increased awareness of the relationships between groups of colours and the colour circle. We will experience these in examples of well-known paintings and then in small compositions of your own. Please bring your own choice of medium such as watercolour, pastels or acrylic paints.
Watery Domains: Highlights of Riverside Gardens in Europe from the 16th -20th centuries
Start Date: 16th August 2021
Fountains pools and basins form enviable parts of gardens but surely the ultimate water feature is a river running past! This summer school will explore some of the most iconic riverside gardens spread across Europe along rivers including the Elbe, the Arno, the Loire, the Seine, and the smaller Nonette.
Decadence
Start Date: 16th August 2021
Beginning with the French poet Baudelaire, decadence grew out of the notion of ‘art for art’s sake’. It was a reaction to the moral earnestness of much Victorian culture, and Arthur Symons noted in 1893 the emergence of ‘a new and beautiful and interesting disease’. We will look at the work of J.-K. Huysmans, Aubrey Beardsley, Oscar Wilde, Ernest Dowson, and ‘Michael Field’.
Western Geotrail - Field Trip
Start Date: 18th August 2021
A walk through the western end of Greensand Country. A slightly longer walk with some steeper inclines. Learn about the Woburn Sands Formation and how man has used the geological resources around him.
Why did the Dinosaurs disappear?
Start Date: 19th August 2021
About 65 million years ago, a rock from space collided with the Earth and produced a planet-wide catastrophe. Dinosaurs of every size and on every continent were wiped out, leaving opportunities for our Mammalian ancestors to gradually take their places. How the details of the global disaster were gradually uncovered is a detective story in itself.
British Sign Language Taster
Start Date: 19th August 2021
When I tell people I am fluent in Sign Language, the reply is so often that they would love to be able to Sign. This is an opportunity to understand more about Sign Language and have a two-hour session to see if it is something you would like to learn more about. By the end of the session, I would expect you to know how to introduce yourself to a Deaf person in BSL.
Biddenham Gravel Pit - Field Trip
Start Date: 25th August 2021
A short field trip to investigate this Site of Special Scientific Interest for its geological features. Another look at how the Ice Ages have shaped our landscape.
Three Domes: Rome, Florence and Istanbul
Start Date: 26th August 2021
A dome confers distinction on a building like nothing else. We recall the domes on St Peter’s, the Dome of The Rock, The Capitol in Washington, our own St Paul’s and many more. This talk focuses on the structure of three outstanding domes, from Ancient Rome, the Byzantine Empire and the Renaissance. How were such vast, gravity-defying constructions ever built?
**MEMBERSHIP 2021/22**
Start Date: 1st September 2021
The REC provides educational, social and recreational opportunities aimed at over 50s. Become a member to take advantage of all that we have to offer!  Termly memberships are also available.
**MEMBERSHIP - AUTUMN TERM**
Start Date: 1st September 2021
Membership for the Autumn term only
**DAY MEMBERSHIP**
Start Date: 1st September 2021
Day membership for attending one day courses.
Kepler and Newton
Start Date: 2nd September 2021
The foundations of celestial mechanics were laid by Kepler and then shown to be part of a majestic edifice by the genius of Newton. The movements of the planetary bodies were a mystery no more.
History of the Sonnet
Start Date: 2nd September 2021
This course charts the emergence of the sonnet in Italy with Cecco Angiolieri, Dante and Petrarch. We go on to trace its development in English, Wyatt and Surrey, and take a look at the first sonnet sequence written by Anne Locke, before considering the development through Spenser, Shakespeare and Milton, the Romantics, and into the modern world.
Crossing the Menai Strait
Start Date: 9th September 2021
Two world-beating bridges were built across the Menai Strait in the 19thcentury, a suspension bridge and a railway bridge. This talk takes a look at these engineering marvels, with slides and video.
Introduction to Pastels
Start Date: 13th September 2021
The course will be aimed at those who have little or no experience of using pastels. We will experiment in a variety of drawing and blending techniques, then develop those techniques to replicate copies of paintings done by well-known artists. Pastels can give people the opportunity to work in colour, produce a piece of work that has a painterly effect but does not involve the use of paraphernalia involved in oil or acrylic painting.
Classical Sculpture: How to View and Enjoy it
Start Date: 13th September 2021
How did the ancient Greeks and Romans strive to show the ideal human form, and with what measure of success? We will consider what aspects are fundamental to an appreciation of classical statuary, looking at a selection covering almost 1,000 years.
Lost Masterpieces
Start Date: 13th September 2021
Art History is littered with the ones that got away. From Leonardo’s Horse to Hogarth’s Harlots Progress, we will look at some of the art works, now lost, that have assumed an almost mythical status.
Still Life Painting with Pastels
Start Date: 13th September 2021
This course will investigate the composition used in still life painting, participants will experiment with a variety of media including; oil or acrylic paints, water colours, pencil and pastel. The class can be from total beginners to more experienced. Support will be given at all stages by Robert who has over 40 years’ experience teaching Art.
Rothsay Ramblers
Start Date: 13th September 2021
Rothsay Ramblers is a sociable group, run by its members and offers walks every Monday morning. Walks are usually between 3 and 5 miles, within a 20-mile radius of Bedford and end with lunch. Occasionally the Rothsay Ramblers organise walks that are longer, further afield or focus on interests such as bird watching and geology.
French Upper Intermediate
Start Date: 13th September 2021
Students in this class will have learnt some French before; they will for example have done 4 years or so of part-time study or will have done their O Level (or A Level) some time ago.
Classical Guitar (Starts at 10.15)
Start Date: 13th September 2021
Ensemble playing forms a large part of what we do; the combination of several relatively simple parts provides a fun way to learn, and enjoy, the classical guitar.
Creative Writing
Start Date: 13th September 2021
For the first term we will concentrate on the short story.  This is an important discipline and the ideal way to explore some of the vital elements of fiction - plot, characterisation, voice and setting.  For the second and third terms we start our novel.  Using the skills we have learnt from the short story, the class will start a novel and read aloud a passage each week to be critiqued.
French Advanced (1.30-3.30)
Start Date: 13th September 2021
This course is aimed at those who have studied French previously and are able to cope fairly fluently in a variety of situations. The aim is to build your confidence and skills as well as extend your knowledge of the French language and culture.
Advanced Bridge
Start Date: 13th September 2021
For the player who is already fairly proficient at the game. Subjects will include: - COUNTING, PLANNING and READING THE CARDS. If you really wish to improve your game, this is the course for you.
Making Music with the Recorder
Start Date: 14th September 2021
The Recorder Ensemble is a friendly group of players who enjoy exploring works of composers from the 13th century to the present day. New members are very welcome but need to have a good standard of reading and playing on at least one instrument. Technique is studied and a home practice routine is encouraged. Music is provided. 
Italian Absolute Beginners 12.30-1.30
Start Date: 14th September 2021
The aim of this course is to present the basics of spoken and written Italian. During the course students will learn how to communicate in simple, everyday situations and will be introduced to some aspects of Italian culture. Prerequisites: The course is aimed at English-speaking students with no previous knowledge of Italian.
German Improvers (1pm-3pm)
Start Date: 14th September 2021
Ideally you will need 2 – 3 years previous study for this course.  The group is friendly, relaxed and welcoming. 
Italian Improvers
Start Date: 14th September 2021
The aim of this course is to consolidate the basics of spoken and written Italian and to help students acquire new structures of Italian grammar, learn new vocabulary and explore some aspects of Italian culture. Prerequisites: The course is aimed at students who already have a basic knowledge of Italian or who have successfully completed the Beginners Plus course offered by REC.
Armenia and Rwanda, Two Genocides Foretold
Start Date: 14th September 2021
Two genocides frame the blood-soaked 20th.c.(1915 and 1994 ). Both need to be understood in a wider perspective; Armenia, that of tangled relations between Armenians, Ottomans and Russians, Rwanda that of colonial disputes and legacies in the Great Lakes region. What role did religion play? 'No genocide ever has an end'. What are the lasting consequences for both peoples in search of redress?
More Old News
Start Date: 14th September 2021
Each week we will look at one old British newspaper (local, regional or national) from the British Library’s extensive collection of digitised newspapers. This will allow us to look at the stories within to rediscover aspects of the past. These will be a different selection to those we looked at last year and is suitable for everyone with an interest in the past.
Great Moral Issues in Contemporary Society
Start Date: 14th September 2021
There are a number of issues which are of great moral concern today. This course is an introduction to some of these issues. They are (experiments on) Animals, Euthanasia, Multiculturalism, Freedom of Speech and Religion, War and World Hunger. In each case, we'll arrive at an understanding of the issue and then we'll consider the case for and against.
Lino Cutting & Relief Block Printing
Start Date: 14th September 2021
A block printing course for beginners and improvers.  Develop your lino cutting skills and create a multi-coloured ‘reduction’ print.  Experiment with different methods of using colour, stencils and overprinting to extend the printing process.
The Dynamic Earth
Start Date: 14th September 2021
Developing an understanding of natural hazards and, in particular, the consequences for people. This includes both tectonic hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis and climatic, including hurricanes and storms, flooding and wildfires.
Writing Your Memoirs
Start Date: 14th September 2021
Have you ever considered writing the story of your life?  If so, this course might be for you. 'Writing your Memoirs' shows how to plan your work, how to begin and how to structure your story. To ensure those new to the class get up to speed quickly, individual help by an experienced writing tutor is available.  Come along and join this ongoing course--the results might surprise you!  This course will be delivered via Zoom for the Autumn term at least.
Watercolour Class
Start Date: 14th September 2021
This course is for students with previous experience who wish to improve their watercolour painting. There will be the opportunity to learn new techniques and to develop your own personal style through the exploration of other artists and cultures art.
German Upper Intermediate
Start Date: 14th September 2021
This class is for students who have a good knowledge of the language and are reasonably confident in all skills. The main emphasis is on learning through enjoyment.
French Improvers
Start Date: 15th September 2021
This course is aimed at those who have completed about 3 years part-time study. Its aim is to develop the different skills (speaking, reading, listening....) as well as revise grammar and learn about French culture through a variety of activities and interaction between the students.
French Conversation - Intermediate
Start Date: 15th September 2021
This is an intermediate level conversation group and is not suitable for beginners. The aim is to put into practice the theory you have learnt previously in order to be able to communicate. This is not a structured class. We work as a group and have a lot of fun in a very relaxed atmosphere. A bientôt!
Italian Advanced
Start Date: 15th September 2021
The aim of this course is to help students learn advanced structures of Italian grammar, vocabulary and to explore contemporary aspects of Italian culture. Prerequisites The course is aimed at students who have a very good knowledge of Italian language or who have successfully completed the Intermediate course offered by the REC.
Spanish Improvers 12.15 to 1.45
Start Date: 15th September 2021
This course is for students who have some knowledge of Spanish and wish to progress learning the language. Learning about Spain and Latin American countries, culture and traditions in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, as well as vocabulary and useful phrases.
Italian Beginners Plus 12.30-1.30
Start Date: 15th September 2021
The aim of this course is to introduce students to new key structures and vocabulary of Italian and to some aspects of Italian culture. Prerequisites: The course is aimed at English-speaking students.  Students who have a basic knowledge of Italian or who have successfully completed the Absolute Beginners course offered by REC.
Italian Intermediate
Start Date: 15th September 2021
The aim of this course is to help students progress in learning new structures of Italian grammar and vocabulary and to explore aspects of Italian culture. Prerequisites: The course is aimed at students who have a good knowledge of Italian language or who have successfully completed the Improvers course offered by REC.
Developing Imagination
Start Date: 15th September 2021
In this practical art course examples and demonstrations of a wide variety of techniques, media and subject matter will lead to work which ranges from naturalistic to abstract. Developing ideas through experiments with the medium in use and sketches will be encouraged.
General Studies
Start Date: 15th September 2021
An assortment of subjects – each week a different speaker and topic covering everything from Popular Culture to Quantum Mechanics. The ideal course for those new to the REC and anyone likely to be absent for a few sessions.
Introduction to Genealogy and Family History
Start Date: 15th September 2021
This course starts with the basics of genealogy and is designed to teach you the skills to effectively trace your ancestors, particularly those in Bedfordshire. They could be rich or poor, or even a criminal! This is a course for beginners.
Lipreading - Autumn Term
Start Date: 15th September 2021
Has the whole world started mumbling? Are you struggling to understand because your hearing isn’t what it used to be?   Lipreading classes may help you as they offer help and reassurance to anyone facing hearing loss. The theory of lip reading is actually covered in 30 weeks, but it is possible to commit to just one term or to continue for as long as you need.
Adultery in Nineteenth Century European Fiction
Start Date: 15th September 2021
Adultery is a surprisingly common theme in some of the most important works of the nineteenth century. In this course we will consider why this was so and look in more detail at two of these, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1856) and Theodor Fontane’s Effi Briest (1895). Texts studied in English translation.
Soldiers, Sailors and Queens
Start Date: 15th September 2021
This course focuses on women who took unusual paths. These include famous soldiers (Boudicca, Joan of Arc) through to those less known such as Lady Mary Banks defender of Corfe Castle; World War II pilots and Special Operations Executives. Women at sea will include pirates Anne Bonney and Grace Molloy (“bold in their breeches”), recent round the world sailors and even a Venetian gondolier! Our study of queens will range across time and place including Cleopatra, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Dowager Empress Cixi in China.
Desire & Betrayal: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Start Date: 15th September 2021
Edith Wharton won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for this novel, an evocative portrait of desire and betrayal in the sumptuous golden age of old New York, where society people dread scandal more than anything else.  New world manners clash with European sensibilities and culture in this sharp study of New York society in the years before, during and after the Great War.
Introduction to British Sign Language - Autumn Term
Start Date: 15th September 2021
Have you always been fascinated by Sign Language? Have you always thought it would be nice to learn? British Sign Language is the most beautiful language. It is a full language, like any other. It has its own vocabulary, grammar and structure. We will cover topics such as the finger spelling alphabet, numbers, colours, home life, family, weather, directions etc.
Return to Holiday Geology
Start Date: 15th September 2021
If you have been missing your holidays, home or abroad, then come along to this 10-week course and discover some fascinating geology about some great places around the world and some closer to home. Come and join Bev on this exciting holiday alternative.
Movie Mix One
Start Date: 15th September 2021
Each week we will look at a film available to watch on television from any period, genre, or country, one that can be deemed Film of the Week. Full film notes will be provided before you watch the film at your leisure, and prior to class discussion via Zoom. An ideal course for film novices and buffs alike. Most films will be on the BBC, BBC iPlayer, Talking Pictures TV, or Film 4.
Poetry of the Seasons
Start Date: 16th September 2021
The first four sessions will explore the poetry of each of the seasons, taking poems from different periods and ranging from the well-known (Keats will certainly feature!) to the less familiar. The final session will look at poems written to mark particular moments in the calendar, such as Christmas Day, Valentine's Day etc.
Spanish Advanced Conversation (10.30-12.30)
Start Date: 16th September 2021
Is your Spanish a bit rusty? Ven a nuestra clase a practicarlo. No importa que lo hallas olvidado un poco, pronto  lore cordaras. Conversaremos sobre temas de actualidad. Leeremos libros de autores contemporáneos. Todos los alumnus participaran activamente en presentaciones a su elección. Los puntos gramaticales y vocabulario son abordados a lo largo de toda la clase. Un ambiente informal, es como estar  con un grupo de amigos charlando "un poco de aquí, de allá y de mi abuela también”. Te esperamos.
French Beginners Plus
Start Date: 16th September 2021
Bonjour et bienvenue dans ma classe de beginners plus. If your French is a little rusty but you are keen to reconnect why not join this small group … with the support of a book that puts us in touch with everyday situations illustrated with dialogues, light grammar points and homework, you will have the opportunity to read, ask questions and have some fun too.
French Conversation – Intermediate to Advanced
Start Date: 16th September 2021
This is an intermediate to advanced level conversation group. No need to talk perfect French, but you need the confidence to hold a conversation. This is not a structured class and there is no grammar included.
Watercolour and Drawing Challenge
Start Date: 16th September 2021
Based on a similar format to the TV series Watercolour Challenge, students will be given a series of different topics throughout the year which they are free to interpret in their own way using watercolour or drawing media.
Spanish Beginners
Start Date: 16th September 2021
This course will offer you the opportunity to learn a new language. Learning through basic everyday useful conversation scenarios. We will learn about Spain and Latin American countries and culture.
In the News
Start Date: 16th September 2021
Interested in current news? Enjoy lively debate? Then this is the class for you. There is no fixed syllabus; whatever is current in the news each week dictates the discussions of the day and we cover a wide spectrum of topics. Class limited to 16, early enrolment is advised.
Acrylic Painting for Beginners
Start Date: 16th September 2021
Acrylic paint is a very versatile medium and can produce artwork with beautiful, vibrant colours when they are used to their full potential. In this introductory course, there will be a strong emphasis on colour. In this introductory course, there will be a strong emphasis on colour. Starting with the three primary colours, you will learn how to mix colours and create a colour wheel. Projects will include abstract studies based on geometric shapes and a simple still life, exploring shadow, perspective and negative spaces.
Great Dictators: Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, Castro and Saddam Hussein
Start Date: 16th September 2021
Not your ideal dinner party guest list, it is true. But well worth getting to know as characters who have left their firm imprint on the course of the last 100 years. How did they become such notorious leaders? How did their dictatorships unfold? What were the various consequences of their many combined years in power?
St. Paul and Christianity
Start Date: 16th September 2021
This course will examine the competing claims surrounding the role of St Paul in the creation of Christianity. We will look at his life and examine the relation between his Epistles and the Gospels.
The Extraordinary Genius of William Burges
Start Date: 16th September 2021
Art-Architect Billy Burges created some of the most fabulous and fantastical buildings of the 19th century from churches to castles. We will look at his life, architecture, and decorative arts, some of which can be seen at the Higgins Art Gallery & Museum in Bedford.
Italy before the Romans
Start Date: 16th September 2021
Within popular imagination, the story of Italy begins with the Roman Republic. But Italy was home to powerful, accomplished civilisations long before the Romans. This course explores these civilisations, focusing on the most notable, the Etruscans, considering their rich history, art, and relationship with the rest of the Mediterranean. This course (COVID dependent) will also involve a rare opportunity to handle authentic ancient objects.
Recent Prize-winning Novels
Start Date: 16th September 2021
The excellent novels on this course are examples of the high quality of writing found in contemporary fiction.  Candice Cary-Williams' Queenie won the British Book Awards Book of the Year for 2020.  Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernadine Evaristo, was the joint winner of the Booker Prize for 2019.  Sara Collins' The Confessions of Frannie Langton earned the Costa First Novel Award in 2019. In diverse ways, these works are compelling, daring, honest and engaging; all of them deserve our attention.
Batik Workshop
Start Date: 17th September 2021
This is a self-help group most of whom are experienced and skilled, but very much welcome new members and offer help and encouragement.
German Conversation
Start Date: 17th September 2021
A good level of fluency is ideal. Emphasis is on conversation in a relaxed atmosphere. Sometimes we read articles providing a basis for discussion, or revise tricky points of grammar. Please do come along and join our friendly class.
Pilates Intermediate (9.30-10.45)
Start Date: 17th September 2021
Pilates is a body conditioning method that works by targeting the deep postural muscles, rebalancing the body and toning and stretching the muscles: This is a more challenging class for those who have done Pilates for at least 2 years - it is not suitable for beginners. Takes place at Priory Methodist Church, Newnham Avenue, Bedford.
Pilates Improver (11.00-12.15)
Start Date: 17th September 2021
Pilates is a body conditioning method that works by targeting the deep postural muscles, rebalancing the body and toning and stretching the muscles: This class is suitable for those with a basic knowledge of Pilates. This class is not suitable for beginners.  This class will take place at Priory Methodist Church, Newnham Avenue, Bedford.
German Beginners Plus (12.30–1.30)
Start Date: 17th September 2021
If you have a little knowledge of German and would like to resume your study then this course would be ideal.  We do lots of revision and practice in a friendly and relaxed group. Please note this course is not suitable for beginners.
Drawing Challenge
Start Date: 17th September 2021
This course will offer a number of different challenges involving drawing media. Students will work in graphite, coloured pencil, charcoal, pen and ink and pastels to interpret a series of different subjects set by the tutor. Students will be encouraged to try different media and subjects so as to develop their own style and interpretation. 
German Lower Intermediate
Start Date: 17th September 2021
A course designed for those who have a good foundation in German through previous study and knowledge, for example of past tenses.  All aspects of the language are covered in a fun and lively way with lots of interaction between learners to develop conversational and grammatical skills.  If you are unsure of the level of this course please contact Rosemary via the REC.
Singing for Pleasure
Start Date: 17th September 2021
If permitted by the government guidelines at the time, our fabulous choir is hoping to return to the REC from September with all necessary precautions in place. We will be learning a variety of songs in the first half of the term and Christmas songs/carols for the second half.  (If we are unable to meet physically, the Singing for Pleasure choir sessions will be delivered by Zoom sessions 2.00-3.00 on Friday afternoons. )
Bodyaware (1.00-2.00)
Start Date: 17th September 2021
Bodyaware is a great way to start an exercise program or as a development to other forms of exercise and helps with Body Posture, Function, Movement and Balance. This course is for Beginners and Advanced students alike.  Classes held at Russell Court, Bushmead Avenue.
Tai Chi (2.15-3.45)
Start Date: 17th September 2021
Tai Chi is a slow mind/body exercise using yoga type principles to help improve how we move including correcting our breathing, posture, toning muscles, and improving flexibility. Classes held at Russell Court, Bushmead Avenue.
Poetry Appreciation - Autumn Term
Start Date: 17th September 2021
On we go! The Poetry Appreciation Class is now in its ninth year, and there are still a few poems we haven’t read! The format is very simple: I bring along some poems and we talk about them. We avoid writers who expect us to assemble our own poem from a box of parts. Equally we avoid writers who tell us that flowers and children are nice and that life is what you make it. In between there is intelligence, beauty, thoughtfulness and skill—a poetry that makes sense but leaves us something to say, something to contribute.
The British Monarchy c1800-1902
Start Date: 17th September 2021
This course will explore the evolution of the British monarchy in the nineteenth century from its highly unpopular status in the late Georgian period to its transformation of mass appeal by the time of the coronation of Edward VII in 1902.
Chess for Beginners
Start Date: 17th September 2021
This course is aimed at those who are new to this iconic thinking game, as well as those who already know the basic rules but wish to improve. This fun game involves the wonderful world of strategy and tactics in order to achieve the goal of checkmate. The course will combine learning and playing games in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
Berlioz – “A Life of Love and Music”
Start Date: 17th September 2021
Hector Berlioz was the absolute quintessence of the Romantic composer. He burst upon the European musical scene in the 1830s. If you don’t know the music of this towering genius (or only know a few of his major pieces) do join us. You will be surprised at the depth and quality of his wonderful music - I can promise a glorious treat for the ears!
Spanish Intermediate (12.30-1.30)
Start Date: 21st September 2021
This course is for students who have learnt Spanish for 2-3 years up to GCSE level. We will revise grammar structures and tenses and we will cover the subjunctive tense. Note later start date
Spanish Advanced
Start Date: 21st September 2021
This course is for students who have learnt Spanish for a few years and have obtained at least A level. (Note later start date.)
‘Travels with a Vasculum and a Gun’: A History of Plant Hunters
Start Date: 30th September 2021
Murdered, shipwrecked, diseased, abandoned, and insane – the life of a plant hunter! Finding time between munities, plagues and landslides to track down, pack up, label, and ship plants back to their sponsors, plant hunters led lives poised between the academic and the piratical, the nurseryman and the thief. We will explore the histories of these intrepid individuals (male and female!)  from the 17th century onwards.
Urban Sketching
Start Date: 16th October 2021
The participants will develop skills to be able to work from the local environment in sketchbooks using a variety of graphic media such as; pen and ink, marker pens, water colour, graphite pencils, charcoal or pastels.  Participants will spend the session working outside investigating local viewpoints using their chosen medium or mixed media. Robert is an experienced artist with over 40 years teaching experience.
Bidding in Bridge
Start Date: 16th October 2021
This day should consolidate some of your bidding conventions and introduce new methods to enable you to maximise your communication with your partner. There will be discussion, supervised bidding and follow up notes but most of all you will enjoy playing competitively with like-minded players.
Exploring the Statues of Wrest Park
Start Date: 16th October 2021
Collected over three centuries the statues at Wrest Park reflect the changing fortunes and fashions of the family that bought them and the sculptors that made them. From the Roman gods to the rural ‘seasons’, the hunting horseman to “boy with rabbit”, not forgetting the mystery of the ‘three Dianas’. Their stories will be revealed in this class-based Day School.
Helen of Troy
Start Date: 16th October 2021
Most famous for her beauty, 'the face that launched a thousand ships', and caused the Trojan War, Helen has inspired many stories and many works of art, music and poetry. We shall explore the many different myths about Helen from the ancient world, and also the more recent depictions of her in the visual and other arts including fiction.
Introduction to Using DNA in Genealogy Research
Start Date: 16th October 2021
Genetic genealogy is the use of genealogical DNA testing in combination with traditional family history records to trace your ancestors and living relatives.  If you have yet to use DNA testing, this talk will help you select which test to use, and the best place to get if from.  If you have already purchased a test, this talk will show you how to interpret and maximise your number of useful matches.
An Introduction to the Art of Caravaggio
Start Date: 16th October 2021
Caravaggio was the bad boy of Renaissance art, often arrested for brawling, vandalism, non- payment of debts and insulting the city guards. But he was also an artist of genius who combined realistic observation with dramatic lighting in his biblical scenes. This one-day course will look at the life of Caravaggio, the development of his art, his influence on painters like Rembrandt and why, despite the remote subject matter, his work still speaks to us today.
Chinese Brushing Painting – Getting Started
Start Date: 1st November 2021
In this module we will be looking at the basic skills of Chinese Xiyei (free style) brush painting. We will use the traditional Subjects – the Four Gentlemen – Plum Blossom, Bamboo, grass Orchid and Chrysanthemum. The module is suitable for beginners and those wishing to refresh their skills.
Love in Classical Literature
Start Date: 1st November 2021
Romantic love won and lost, patriotic love and wider, more spiritual love both fascinated and inspired, as well as frustrated and tormented ancient readers and writers as much as they do modern readers.  In this course we will study selections of Greek, Roman and mediaeval authors, all in English, those famous, such as Catullus, Propertius and Vergil, and those with less familiar names.
A to Z of Economics
Start Date: 1st November 2021
We will explore Economic terms or theories in alphabetical order over the 5-week course. Topics might include 'Aid', 'Behavioural Economics', 'Competitive Advantage', 'Unemployment Trap', and 'World Trade Organisation'. We will look at the meaning in simple terms of each concept and then examine some practical examples found in the real world.
Medical Physics
Start Date: 1st November 2021
The 5 week course is divided into the following topics; - CASE STUDIES - a. The development of replacement joints b. Pacemakers MEDICAL IMAGING 1 - a. Optical imaging   b. X-rays   c. Ultrasound MEDICAL IMAGING 2 - a. CT scan b. MRI scan NUCLEAR MEDICINE - a Diagnosis b.Therapy THE FUTURE - a. Robotics b.  Artificial Intelligence c. Nanotechnology  d. Proton Beams
Introduction to Buddhism
Start Date: 2nd November 2021
Buddhism is one of the great religions of the world. This course is an introduction to Buddhism: to its origins and early historical development; its key texts, key beliefs and some of its key practices; to the foundations of its ethics and to its philosophy.
The Life of Plants
Start Date: 2nd November 2021
Plants may seem dull in comparison with the charismatic mammals which race across our TV screens, but they have played a far more dramatic role in the evolution of our world than you might imagine. This course focuses on how plants have managed to hold their own in the struggle with their animal neighbours.
Birds: Their Hidden World
Start Date: 2nd November 2021
We will look at birds through the eyes of an ornithologist. Using mainly UK species as examples, we will consider aspects of bird ecology, adaptation and behaviour. This course will be delivered by Zoom
Yoga
Start Date: 3rd November 2021
Yoga stretches for health and wellbeing of mind, body and soul.  We will use yoga blocks and belts (please bring your own) to support the various exercises to enable support in the postures.  Through the 5 weeks, we will explore breath work, physical movement and meditative relaxation techniques.
Noble Deeds & Hot Baths: I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith
Start Date: 3rd November 2021
This charming story of a young girl living with her eccentric family in a crumbling Suffolk castle, poised between childhood and a very adult world, has many admirers.  Joanna Trollope has said “I know of few novels that inspire as much fierce lifelong affection in their readers”. The heroine Cassandra is described by the vicar as “Jane Eyre with a touch of Becky Sharp”: please join us to see if we can kindle and/or celebrate a fierce lifelong affection for her.
The Communist Experiment: How 10 days changed the course of the last 100 years
Start Date: 4th November 2021
Russia’s October 1917 revolution, the single most important event of the 20th century, signalled the world’s first communist society and went on to steer the course of global politics for the following 75 years. In this course we will follow the story of the causes, course and consequences of the ground-breaking Bolshevik insurrection.
Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal
Start Date: 4th November 2021
This autobiographical poem was written in 1938. Interwoven with personal history is a series of reflections on art, love, conscience and the state of modern culture, all the more poignant because of the approach of the Second World War.
Master of the Modern: Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Start Date: 4th November 2021
Architect, designer, watercolourist and artist, Mackintosh led the path on the way to modernism. His blend of traditional Scottish designs with the arts of Japan led to some of the most famous buildings of the late 19th and early 20th century. But this is only part of his story. He was also an influential designer and painter of exquisite watercolours, and we will look at the whole life and career of one of the most individual artist-architects.
The Language of Irish Protest
Start Date: 4th November 2021
Over the centuries Ireland has experienced a great deal of conflict and this has resulted in a variety of protests. This course will look at some of the ways in which this protest has been expressed, exploring literary texts as well as speeches, letters, songs and personal reflections. No prior reading is necessary – the texts will be read during our sessions.
Deaf Awareness
Start Date: 13th November 2021
The aim of this course is to provide a better understanding of the communication barriers that Deaf and hard of hearing people face every day and discuss how they can be broken down. We will cover topics such as statistics on deafness and what the audiology descriptions of the various levels of deafness actually mean. We will also look at different forms of communication used by Deaf and hard of hearing people (lipreading and BSL).
Mixing Greys and Painting Skies in Watercolour
Start Date: 13th November 2021
Come and enjoy the alchemy of mixing many subtle greys from the colours in your paint box. Only a red, a yellow and a blue are essential but other colours are welcome. The newly found colours will then be used to paint a cloudscape. Demonstrations and examples will make this activity suitable for beginners as well as offering those with more experience an opportunity to increase their colour mixing skills.
Researching your Military Ancestors
Start Date: 13th November 2021
Somewhere along the line most of us will find an ancestor that has served in the First or Second World War. This course will guide you through sources you can access via The National Archives, local archives and military museums, along with an increasing number of online resources. The course will look at how to combine records to best effect, and what you can expect to discover about your military ancestors.
The Role & Meaning of Plants in Shakespeare
Start Date: 13th November 2021
Have you ever wondered what exactly Romeo’s friends had in mind when they wished his lover were a medlar and Romeo a popp’rin pear?   What actually is an apple-john, or indeed a peascod or a codling, and which were insults and which not? A glorious morning of Shakespearian revelry which will transform your understanding of fennel!
The Secret Life of Plants
Start Date: 13th November 2021
This one-day course consists of snapshots from the 5-week course running concurrently. Plants are the only source of food on the planet. As if that weren’t enough, they remove carbon dioxide from the air and constantly replenish the oxygen. Entire animal groups have evolved to eat them, but the plants have evolved extraordinary ways to defend themselves.
Greek Painted Pottery
Start Date: 13th November 2021
Ancient Greek painted pottery from the has survived in both quantity and quality. We shall consider the range of subjects shown on the pots, including mythological subjects and scenes from daily life, as well as studying the shapes and functions of the pots, and how they were made and decorated. There will be opportunities for questions and discussion as we explore pots from museum collections worldwide.
Love & Marriage: Proposals in Jane Austen’s Novels
Start Date: 13th November 2021
From the ludicrous to the sublime, the proposals of marriage portrayed in Jane Austen’s fiction reveal so much about the lovers who make them, the ladies who must respond and the nature of love and marriage. Please join us to consider the blunderings of Mr Collins (not every girl says no!); the arrogance of Mr Darcy; and the unbridled passion of Captain Wentworth in confessing love and offering marriage to Jane Austen’s heroines. We will also discuss the wisdom of the young ladies’ responses!
**MEMBERSHIP - SPRING TERM**
Start Date: 1st January 2022
Membership for the Spring term only
Chinese Brush Painting – Flower and Bird
Start Date: 10th January 2022
In this module we will be looking at flowers and birds and the way in which they are represented in Chinese art. We will learn the Xiyei (free style) techniques for representing some of the traditional Chinese flowers and birds and we will look at some of the traditional compositional forms. This module is suitable for beginners and improvers. We will be working with Chinese brushes and Chinese brush painting materials.
Brush up Your Latin
Start Date: 10th January 2022
Did you enjoy Latin at school (albeit a long time ago)? Would you like to revisit it in a gentler way? Whether you have O level/GCSE, A level, or gained no qualifications at all, this will be a second chance to experience the joys of Latin. The course will consider extracts from the classical authors, some mediaeval Latin, and some material from the present day. The only requirement is a simple understanding of basic rules of the language.
Astro Physics
Start Date: 10th January 2022
The course starts with the basic tools of the trade: measurement of distance, brightness and magnitudes of objects, and will cover the Solar System, history of astronomy, spectroscopy, proto stars and star birth, black holes, Galaxies, the Big Bang and much more! Includes a visit to Bedford School Observatory.   Supported by software simulations and video.  All material is available online.                                                                                                        
The Slade Girls
Start Date: 10th January 2022
From its foundation in 1871, the Slade School of Art offered female students’ education on equal terms as men from the outset, a radical move in art education. Over the past 150 years some of the most famous women artists have passed through the Slade. We will look at many of those artists including Kate Greenaway, Gwen John, Jessica Dismore, Gwen Raverat, Carrington, Winfred Knights, Paula Rego and Maggi Hambling, as well as some names you may not know.
Slavery and the Religions - A Moral and Theological Problem
Start Date: 11th January 2022
Every major religion had both condoned and then condemned the institution of slavery, used sacred texts to justify and later disqualify it. What arguments were deployed by churchmen and religious professionals to defend slavery, and eventually plead for its abolition? The question of the part played by Racism in underpinning slavery will also be examined.
Age of Empires 1880-1914
Start Date: 11th January 2022
The third and final part of our history of the long nineteenth century (1789-1914), the era in which modern Britain took shape. This course will take a thematic approach to examine the social, political and economic changes that affected Britain. This course is suitable for those who are interested in this period whether or not they attended the previous courses.
Printing on Fabric
Start Date: 11th January 2022
Explore ways of creating repeat patterns and cut blocks to print on fabric. Use your skills to produce cushions, bags, wall hangings and other textile projects. Previous printing experience is not necessary, but those who have already had a go at lino-cutting will find it an interesting way to extend their range. A small charge will be made for materials.
Italy in 5 Iconic Cities
Start Date: 11th January 2022
A cultural tour of Italy from Venice to Naples by way of Verona, Florence and Rome. There will be some history, art, music, architecture, food and drink and, hopefully, a lot of fun.
The Perfect Planet: Land Sea and Air, Teeming with Life
Start Date: 11th January 2022
This 5-week course is for those wanting to improve their understanding of how living things work. The earth’s biosphere (which extends today from around 3 miles above mean sea level to about 7 miles below) is shielded from the vacuum of space by an atmosphere just a few miles deep.  Oxygen is the key, but where did photosynthesis begin, and how do animals unpick it to release the energy captured by plants? The course includes a little earth history, a little cosmology and lots of biology.
World’s Best Underground Systems
Start Date: 11th January 2022
This course will cover the history of several of the world’s major urban rapid-transit railway systems (often called metros), emphasizing the oldest ones and those displaying the greatest distinctiveness in architecture and design.  Covering the London underground, New York City Subway inc. Chicago El, Mosco, Paris Metro, and the U Bahn and S Bahn in Berlin, and a few more.
Spotlight on Bedford
Start Date: 12th January 2022
This course focuses on the centre of Bedford. Although cruelly castigated as a cemetery with traffic lights in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries there were improvements to the quality of life for Bedfordians. These included the “jewel in crown”(the River Ouse, the Embankment, bridges, and monuments); religious buildings and ideas; medical and social services (Infirmary, Workhouse and Asylum); amenities (including cinemas, Foster Hill Cemetery) and Bedford High Street where shops and workshops helped to give Bedford its vitality as a small market Town.
Lipreading - Spring Term
Start Date: 12th January 2022
Has the whole world started mumbling? Are you struggling to understand because your hearing isn’t what it used to be?   Lipreading classes may help you as they offer help and reassurance to anyone facing hearing loss. The theory of lipreading is actually covered in 30 weeks, but it is possible to commit to just one term or to continue for as long as you need.
Light & Shadow: Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina
Start Date: 12th January 2022
Written several years after War and Peace, this novel is considered the more perfect work, offering intimate insight into the human psyche and also perhaps the Russian soul.  It’s a page-turner, too!
The Decline and Fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Fiction
Start Date: 12th January 2022
This course will examine two of the most remarkable novels of the twentieth century, Joseph Roth’s Radetzky March (1932) and Franz Kafka’s The Castle (posthumously published in 1926) in relation to the fall of the House of Habsburg and the Austrian Empire in 1918. Texts studied in English translation.
The Rise and Fall of Liberal Democracy
Start Date: 12th January 2022
The history of the world, according to Karl Marx, was a history of class struggles. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the path to global liberal democracy looked clear. Since then, however, it seems instead to be under challenge and retreating across the world.  We will look at its growth, its present struggles and try and see if there is a path forward.
Introduction to British Sign Language - Spring Term
Start Date: 12th January 2022
Have you always been fascinated by Sign Language? Have you always thought it would be nice to learn? British Sign Language is the most beautiful language. It is a full language, like any other. It has its own vocabulary, grammar and structure. We will cover topics such as the fingerspelling alphabet, numbers, colours, home life, family, weather, directions etc. 
Discovering Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Start Date: 12th January 2022
Come along and discover some of the world's famous volcanoes and Earth's devastating historic earthquakes. Find out how and where they happen and some of the fascinating stories that surround these exciting events in Earth's history. Join your enthusiastic tutor of Earth Sciences, on this journey around the globe exploring geology at its best.
Movie Mix Two
Start Date: 12th January 2022
Each week we will look at a film available to watch on television from any period, genre, or country, one that can be deemed Film of the Week. Full film notes will be provided before you watch the film at your leisure, and prior to class discussion via Zoom. An ideal course for film novices and buffs alike. Most films will be on the BBC, BBC iPlayer, Talking Pictures TV, or Film 4.
The Philosophy of Wittgenstein
Start Date: 13th January 2022
Ludwig Wittgenstein was arguably the most important philosopher of the twentieth century. An extraordinary man, who described his average day as feeling depressed, whistling and going for walks, he produced a theory of language which he thought would put an end to foggy talk about metaphysics and other such matters.
The Making of an Architectural Masterpiece III
Start Date: 13th January 2022
We will look at some of the most famous buildings from the Pantheon to Apple Park. We shall discover and discuss 10 key constructions, their controversies, importance and influences. Discussion and debate is actively encouraged!
Greek Art, 900-300BC
Start Date: 13th January 2022
The Greek World saw arguably the most dynamic moments of artistic creation in Western history. This course will explore Greek Art from its earliest conception in the so-called ‘Dark Ages’ to the death of Alexander the Great, focusing on its sculpture, painting, pottery and architecture, and the developments that laid the foundations of Western artistic expression. This course (COVID dependent) will also involve a rare opportunity to handle authentic ancient objects.
Fairy Tales: Classic and Modern
Start Date: 13th January 2022
Fairy tales never go out of style and they are as resonant to readers/listeners now as they ever were.  Here, we discover the delight of encountering classic fairy tales and some modern rewritten versions of them.  Come and join us for some fascinating discussions!
The Poets of the Second World War
Start Date: 13th January 2022
While the poets of the 1914-18 War are justifiably well known and celebrated, those writers who covered the 1939 conflict are less well known. This five week course will address that! We will cover poets such as Keith Douglas, Roy Fuller and Charles Causley amongst others and consider if, like Owen’s famous dictum declared, ‘the poetry is in the pity’ still.
Secrets and Lives: The Enigmatic Story of Bletchley Park
Start Date: 13th January 2022
This is the story of 10,000 people who saved countless lives by intercepting and deciphering millions of encoded enemy messages. Who were these code breakers? How did BP become this unique code-breaking factory? What methods and epoch changing machines were invented? How did these breakthroughs influence so many key events of World War Two and beyond?
Acrylic Painting Course cont.
Start Date: 13th January 2022
Progressing from the beginners’ course, you will be able to build on the skills you have learnt by practicing these as well as new techniques. You will learn how to paint landscapes, or other scenes, from photographs. You will learn how to paint landscapes, or other scenes, from photographs and be encouraged to use your imagination and make further experiments with acrylics
Poetry Appreciation - Spring
Start Date: 14th January 2022
On we go! The Poetry Appreciation Class is now in its ninth year, and there are still a few poems we haven’t read! The format is very simple: I bring along some poems and we talk about them. We avoid writers who expect us to assemble our own poem from a box of parts. Equally we avoid writers who tell us that flowers and children are nice and that life is what you make it. In between there is intelligence, beauty, thoughtfulness and skill—a poetry that makes sense but leaves us something to say, something to contribute.
The Unification of Italy 1799-1870
Start Date: 14th January 2022
This course will explore how a diverse and patchwork range of states became united in an Italian state by 1870. The role of nationalism and the heroic figures such as Garibaldi and Mazzini will be explored, along with the role of the Papacy and changing balance of international relations in Europe on the mid nineteenth…
UK Policing, Criminology and Crime
Start Date: 14th January 2022
This course allows you to gain an understanding of how criminologists and the UK Police Force make sense of the diverse and often complex issues around crime and criminal behaviours. You will be taught by Criminologists (active researchers) and retired Police officers.
The Piano – Its History, Its Music
Start Date: 14th January 2022
We often take the instruments we play for granted. But the remarkable story of the piano is worth a closer look. We’ll look at the 300-year evolution of the piano and listen to the best players and music, familiar and unfamiliar.
Maps, Mapping and Guidebooks: A History
Start Date: 20th January 2022
Many of us explore the countryside clutching a battered old Ordnance Survey map, or perhaps download an ‘I am Here’ map to our digital device.  But maps of Britain at all scales have been made for the last eight centuries: Maps of journeys, maps of estates, Enclosure maps, County maps, even Taxation maps!  But why were they all made?  Why do some show some features and not others and why is north often NOT upwards! Eight centuries of Mapping in eight weeks!
Playing Bridge Hands
Start Date: 29th January 2022
It is very satisfying to make all the tricks possible in a hand as declarer or to stop the opposition making tricks as defenders. This day will introduce techniques to enable declarers to do just that and to help defenders with their reading of the cards and their communication with their partner.
Sir Compton Mackenzie: from Capri to Whiskey Galore
Start Date: 29th January 2022
Compton Mackenzie is best known through Whisky Galore, but his story is far more varied and interesting, and includes the important novel Sinister Street, satirical fictions set on the island of Capri where he lived before the First World War, involvement in the establishment of the Scottish National Party, and the founding and editing of the music magazine, Gramophone. We will take a look at his remarkable life
Big Garden Birdwatch
Start Date: 29th January 2022
This course is led by the originator of this popular national survey. A day course looking in detail at birds that visit our gardens and what we can find out about them. We will also look at recent results and see what this tells us about the health of our local populations. 
Deserted Medieval Villages…. or Not
Start Date: 29th January 2022
Humps and bumps in the grass; a gothic script over a space on the Ordnance Survey Map, and a half-remembered reference to plague or sheep. We all think we know what the deserted medieval village is or was,but do we? A day to re-explore our pre-conceptions of what the DMV might actually be.
Introduction to Astronomy and Telescopes
Start Date: 29th January 2022
An introduction to find your way around the sky and identify the brighter constellations and using star maps. A review of the many solar system and deep sky objects found in the sky and how to observe them. Describe how a telescope works and is best used, showing some of the more popular accessories used with them.
Beauty in Modern Art
Start Date: 29th January 2022
One way of characterising modernist art is to say that it is intellectual rather than beautiful. But this claim ignores how each age defines beauty differently. Nevertheless, we are always tempted to ask whether beauty has any enduring qualities. This one-day course will examine several paintings by Manet, Gauguin and Cezanne and others to see if beauty is transitory or transcendent, whether it is peculiar to its time, or whether it is beyond time.
How to use 17th and 18th century records to expand your family tree.
Start Date: 29th January 2022
Finding 17th and 18th family history records is problematic for many family historians as traditional civil registration records and census records do not go back this far. This course introduces you to the wealth of records that you can use to trace your family history back as far as the 1600’s, if not further. It gives practical examples and demonstrates where and how to locate these records.
Hardwiring for Happiness
Start Date: 12th February 2022
Born with a negativity bias we change the way we think, increase our positivity and happiness as well as our overall wellbeing. During this course we will look at the science of neuroplasticity, how practices such as mindfulness, laughter, compassion and gratitude can improve our mental and physical wellbeing.
Roman Wall Painting
Start Date: 12th February 2022
Roman wall painters were commissioned to decorate the houses of the prosperous across the Roman Empire in a range of styles and fashions. Some show scenes from mythology, whilst others depict the natural world, and scenes of daily life. The expertise required to design and execute these painted walls was considerable, and thankfully we have well-preserved examples from several areas, though perhaps most notably from the Bay of Naples area.
Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple
Start Date: 12th February 2022
“Miss Marple insinuated herself so quickly into my life that I hardly noticed her arrival” wrote Agatha Christie in her autobiography.  For more than 90 years her readers, and more recently her viewers, have felt much the same!  Please join us to consider this wonderful character, her portrayal in Agatha Christie’s stories and on our screens, and our response to her magnificence!
Using Wills and Probate to expand your family history research
Start Date: 12th February 2022
Wills can be the richest of documents when confirming family relationships. This course will guide you through the various probate documents available, such as wills, administrations and death duty registers. You will learn how to search for wills and administrations, how to extract genealogically useful information, and how to apply your findings to other family history research.
Sex and Death in the Garden
Start Date: 12th February 2022
This wide- ranging day will use botany, science, art and literature to explore those extremes of creation and endings.  From pistils and pollen, through phallic topiary and sexually charged shrubberies to poisonous plants, gothic garden murder mysteries and tragic tales of plant hunters.
Anatolia and the Dawn of Civilisation
Start Date: 21st February 2022
The land we now call Turkey, at the crossroads of Eurasia, was known to the Greeks as Anatolia – the Land of the Rising Sun. We shall follow the early stages of this story from its roots to the last millennium BC.
Economics through the Prism of a Car
Start Date: 21st February 2022
In its manufacture, sourcing, retail, trading and consumption, a car embraces a wide range of fascinating economic concepts and issues. We will look at economic theory through the various stages of car production. The crucial role of investment, research and development in the car industry will be covered as will the economics of large-scale production.  Local and international labour markets will be relevant as will taxes, tariffs and the environmental issues relating to petrol v electric cars.
More Pastels - Spring Term
Start Date: 21st February 2022
The course will deal with more in-depth investigations into landscape and still life painting with pastels.  We will investigate techniques for rendering skies, mixing mark making and blending to achieve interesting surfaces and colour mixing. The aim is for projects to become more personalised as the course progresses, developing skills and techniques accordingly. Participants who have limited experience should not be put off and will be given support throughout the course.
Two Ancient Greek Historians
Start Date: 21st February 2022
Both Herodotus and Thucydides wrote of significant men and events in 5th century Greece. In this course the time will be split between the two historians, with the opportunity to consider a selection of passages recalling fascinating stories, momentous occasions and the people who spear-headed these changes, and whose names are still known two and a half millennia later. All textual material will be provided. No previous knowledge is required.
Portrait Painting from Photographs
Start Date: 21st February 2022
Painting from life is not always possible, so many painters have to rely on photographic source images. The course hopes to give each participant the necessary skills to develop the source image to include the sense of depth. The course is designed for participants of all abilities and experience and total beginners will be fully supported.
How to have a calmer, happier life
Start Date: 21st February 2022
Over the five weeks course we will look in more depth on how we can use ancient and modern thinking to maintain and improve our mental and physical well being. The course will cover both the theory and practices on the importance and benefits of using our breath, mindfulness, laughter, compassion and gratitude to help us bring calm, positivity and more happiness into our life.
A History of Western Philosophy I
Start Date: 22nd February 2022
Western philosophy begins with the ancient Greeks in the 6th century BCE. This course considers some of the key elements in the thought of some of the greatest philosophers of the ancient Greek period. They are (some of) the pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
Our Cultural Links with Birds
Start Date: 22nd February 2022
Looking back in history, we find human society has taken more interest in birds than we might imagine - from Egyptian tomb paintings and Roman mosaics to romantic poets and modern composers. We will look and listen to some of these interpretations and discover aspects of birds that appealed to artists past and present. Optional outing on Sat 12 March.
Alibis & Innocence: The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie
Start Date: 23rd February 2022
Award winning crime novelist Sophie Hannah has pronounced The Body in the Library, published in 1942, as “flawless”.  Please join us to consider closely the form and content of this perfect novel from the pen of Agatha Christie, mistress of the genre, writing at the height of her powers!
Five who changed the course of 20th Century History
Start Date: 24th February 2022
Dame Millicent Fawcett, the Campaigner; Vladimir Lenin, the Revolutionary; Joseph Goebbels, the Propagandist; Franklyn D Roosevelt, the Nation Builder; Francisco Franco, the Dictator. These individuals have helped change the course of modern history for good and for bad. We will study their lives, their ideas and their legacies.
The Moon and Sixpence and Gauguin
Start Date: 24th February 2022
Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence is partly based on the life of Paul Gauguin, one of the great innovators of modern art. We will read the novel as a means of entry into Gaugin’s life and art, but we will also focus on it as a critique of some aspects of the modern world.
A Brief History of Photography
Start Date: 24th February 2022
From the start of WW2 to the end of the 20th Century, there was an explosion in the practice of photography and the availability of diverse equipment and processes (e.g. black & white, colour, infrared). We shall explore this dynamic period of photographic history through the influence of different genres and a number of post-war photographers that have become household names; Henri Cartier-Bresson, Don McCullin, Steve McCurry, Vivian Maier and many others.
Collage Workshop
Start Date: 19th March 2022
Collage is a wonderful way to be creative without having to be skilled at drawing or painting. In the workshop you can experiment with this exciting mixed media art form, using found papers and glue. Suitable for beginners or those more practiced.
Mobileography
Start Date: 19th March 2022
This 1-day workshop will introduce Mobile Phone Photography to help you build a strong understanding of camera & phone technology – it’s limitations, but more importantly, its numerous advantages. You will learn ‘WYSIWYG composition skills’ – this is the key to successful image making with a mobile phone. The workshop will also include 2-hours ‘Walk-about’ (weather permitting) along the Bedford Embankment in search for images.
Daffodils in Art and Culture
Start Date: 19th March 2022
Celebrating the ‘flower that comes before the swallow dares’ we will dance with Wordsworth’s daffodils and sigh sadly with Lenten Lilies. Welcomed in from the wild in the 16th century forms and features proliferated through unstable couplings, delighting the florists of old.
One name studies - Researching your surname
Start Date: 19th March 2022
One name studies are different from other genealogical research methods that seek to find the numerous ancestors of particular individual. This one-day workshop aims to teach you the basics on how you can start to research the origins of your own surname.
Joni Mitchell: The Song Poet
Start Date: 19th March 2022
Joni Mitchell - Reckless Daughter, an appreciation of her as a Song Poet from 1968 to the present. Song Poems from her albums - Song to a Seagull [68]; Clouds [69]; Ladies of the Canyon [70]; Blue [71]; Court & Spark [74]; The Hissing of Summer Lawns [75]; Hejira [76] up to Shine [07].
Born to Travel - the Wonder of Bird Migration
Start Date: 19th March 2022
As spring approaches, this is a good time to consider the journeys of millions of birds that will be moving across our planet. We will focus mainly on species that visit the British Isles - many that are very familiar to us. We will also look briefly at some other wild creatures that make remarkable journeys.
Hands On Rocks
Start Date: 19th March 2022
Join Bev for a fun and interactive look at some rocks, fossils and minerals. Learn about the fascinating processes that formed these specimens.
**MEMBERSHIP - SUMMER TERM**
Start Date: 1st April 2022
Membership for the Summer term only
Applied Economics
Start Date: 25th April 2022
This introductory course will look at some basic economic theory in the first part of each week and then, after the break, look at current economic issues in the news to which we can apply that theory. For example: is there a pay gap between the private and public sectors? What are the economic and social consequences of continued environmental destruction? How has international trade developed now that Brexit has bedded in? No previous Economics knowledge required.
Even More Pastels - Summer Term
Start Date: 25th April 2022
The course will concentrate upon more individual pieces based upon individual source material. Participants will be able to develop a more individual style of working, developing skills and techniques learnt during the previous sessions. Participants who are new to pastels will be supported throughout the sessions.
Dip your toes into Ancient Greek
Start Date: 25th April 2022
Study an ancient language from scratch, a language which produced so many important texts of the Western world. We will start with the absolute basics of the language, the alphabet itself, moving on to easy stories and then progressing to some simplified extracts of the great writers themselves.
Design Icon V
Start Date: 25th April 2022
We will look at 10 icons of design, from buildings to fashion, from the mundane to the sublime. Discover the extraordinary stories behind seemingly every-day objects. Attendance of the previous courses is not necessary.
Landscape Painting with Pastels - Summer Term
Start Date: 25th April 2022
The course will investigate landscape painting using pastels.  Participants will be encouraged to work from favourite images of their own such as photographs they have taken themselves. The course is designed for participants of all abilities and experience and total beginners will be fully supported.
Orientalism: The Muslim World Seen Through Western Eyes
Start Date: 26th April 2022
The 'West' has long been intrigued by the 'Orient'; from Antiquity onwards the 'Orient' was the 'Other', the 'Not-Us', the unknowable, the mysterious, source of a thousand fantasies. The arrival of Islam underlined its otherness. Due attention will be given to pictorial representations of Muslims and their world as seen through the eyes of the Orientalist school of painting.
A History of Western Philosophy II
Start Date: 26th April 2022
The modern period of the western tradition of philosophy begins in the 17th century. This course considers some of the key elements in the thought of some of the greatest philosophers of this period. These philosophers are Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, and Wittgenstein. Attendance on the previous course not necessary.
Lipreading - Summer Term
Start Date: 27th April 2022
Has the whole world started mumbling? Are you struggling to understand because your hearing isn’t what it used to be?   Lipreading classes may help you as they offer help and reassurance to anyone facing hearing loss. This course is suitable if you have little or no experience in lipreading or need extra help having lived with hearing loss for a while. The theory of lipreading is actually covered in 30 weeks, but it is possible to commit to just one term or to continue for as long as you need.
Film Studies: And the Oscar goes to…: The International Winners
Start Date: 27th April 2022
Over 10 weeks the course shall cover films that have won an Academy Award for Best International Feature Film in the last 70 years. We will look at Rashomon (1950); Mon Oncle (1958); The Virgin Spring (1960); Day for Night (1973); All About my Mother (1999); Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000); No Man’s Land (2001); Ida (2013); The Salesman (2016); and A Fantastic Woman (2017)
Ways of Seeing: A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
Start Date: 27th April 2022
A Room with a View is a romantic love story (Lucy must choose between her head and her heart); a fizzing social comedy of very English manners; an oh-so-inviting evocation of the delights (and dangers!) of foreign travel and rural English life; and “a sunny novel” according to Malcolm Bradbury: much to enjoy and discuss!
The Passing of Time in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence (1920) and Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way (1913)
Start Date: 27th April 2022
In the years around the First World War writers became fascinated with the passing of time as a self-conscious element in human experience. This course looks at two key works which offer different perspectives on the theme in relation to capturing life as it was experienced in Gilded-Age New York and the Belle Époque France. Proust studied in English translation.
Discussion Group
Start Date: 27th April 2022
Our discussions cover a wide range of social, political and moral issues with plenty of time for all to participate. Mostly they are based around Radio 4’s Moral Maze programmes, although sometimes we use other suitable material as the basis for discussion.
The English Civil War
Start Date: 27th April 2022
In many respects the English Civil War is the world’s forgotten revolution, and the first to dispose of a Royal head of state to be replaced by a republic. Yet it is not seen that way, or generally taught in schools that way. We will look at the time leading up to the revolt, at the Civil War itself, then the time afterwards, with Oliver Cromwell as what today would be called President.
Introduction to British Sign Language - Summer Term
Start Date: 27th April 2022
Have you always been fascinated by Sign Language? Have you always thought it would be nice to learn? British Sign Language is the most beautiful language. It is a full language, like any other. It has its own vocabulary, grammar and structure. We will cover topics such as the finger spelling alphabet, numbers, colours, home life, family, weather, directions etc. 
Collage for Beginners
Start Date: 28th April 2022
Collage (from the French, coller, to stick) is basically attaching bits of paper, or other material onto a surface to create an image. It is an exciting and relatively easy way to express yourself creatively, using materials that are readily available at home, such as magazines, newspapers, wallpaper remnants and otherwise discarded bits of paper.
Freud: ‘A Case of Hysteria’
Start Date: 28th April 2022
Freud’s treatment of Ida Bauer (1882–1945), otherwise known as ‘Dora’ is one of the most controversial episodes in his career. The sessions were not successful mainly because Freud tried to compel ‘Dora’ to accept his interpretation of her experience rather than help ‘Dora’ deal with it in her own terms. Feminists have applauded Dora’s courage in defying the ‘Father of Psychoanalysis’. Will we follow their example or is the picture more complicated?
More English Wildflowers in Folklore and Reality
Start Date: 28th April 2022
Following on from last summer’s course, we will explore the identification, historic usages, myths and folklore of more of our traditional wildflowers of field, meadow and hedgerows. There is no need to have attended last year’s class as we will be covering different plants.
Iconic Photographs of the 19th & 20th Century
Start Date: 28th April 2022
This course will introduce a wide selection of iconic images and the photographers from the ‘dawn of popular’ photography to the closure of the 20th Century. To fully appreciate and understand the images presented, a ‘crash course’ in photography composition and communication techniques or skills will also be included. “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.” [Henri Cartier-Bresson]
The Archaeology of Britain
Start Date: 28th April 2022
Britain’s archaeological landscape is one of the most diverse and rapidly developing in the world. Commercial archaeology is constantly shedding new light on our collective history. This course will examine the material heritage of Britain, both in its most magnificent finds, and the ordinary, illuminating how both the wealthiest and average person lived in the past. This course (COVID dependent) will also involve a rare opportunity to handle authentic ancient objects
Modern Short Stories by Women
Start Date: 28th April 2022
On this course, we will analyse and discuss a wide variety of short stories, some by famous writers while other authors may be new to some readers. There should be something of interest for everyone because the stories discussed on this course come from a comprehensive anthology entitled The Story: Love, Loss and The Lives of Women, selected by Victoria Hislop. Join us for some rewarding discussions.
The Soliloquy in Shakespeare’s Tragedies
Start Date: 28th April 2022
The soliloquy is a vital dramatic device in Shakespeare’s drama and nowhere is it used to greater effect than in the tragedies. This five week course will look at some of the greatest speeches in literature, exploring their language, their revelation of character and their place in the play itself.
The Stuarts, 1603-1689
Start Date: 29th April 2022
This course will explore the absolutist instincts of James Ist and Charles Ist leading to the start of the Civil War in 1642. We will analyse the reasons for the trial and execution of Charles Ist and the controversial personality of Oliver Cromwell. Why did the experiment with republicanism fail and why did continuing religious conflict cast a pall over the later years of Charles II and lead to the deposition of his brother, James II, in the Glorious Revolution?
The Symphony
Start Date: 29th April 2022
The Symphony is one of the best-loved achievements of Western Art.  Music lovers know what a symphony is, but what is the difference between a twenty-minute symphony by Haydn and a ninety-minute symphony by Mahler? We will survey the development of the symphony and see why composers have reserved some of their greatest musical thoughts for this remarkably popular and robust form.
Chinese Brush Painting – Landscape – Getting started
Start Date: 6th June 2022
The Chinese have developed a very different approach to landscape painting from that adopted by the West. In this module we will look at Chinese Xiyei Landscape compositions and how they differ from Western landscapes. We will learn some of the Xiyei (free style) methods used to represent rocks, trees, water, mist, cloud and landscape elements. This module is suitable for beginners and improvers. We will be working with Chinese brushes and Chinese brush painting materials
In a Foreign Country: The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley
Start Date: 8th June 2022
“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”  Please join us to consider this statement from The Go-Between, published in 1953, a haunting story of a young boy’s awakening into the secrets of the adult world. The novel captures the mood of summers past and invites us to consider the role of the go-between in literature and in life!
The Life and Art of Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1656)
Start Date: 9th June 2022
This course will explore the life and work of Artemisia Gentileschi using Alexandra Lapierre’s novel about the artist. Artemisia began working in the style of Caravaggio but soon developed her own approach to painting. Artemisia was not the only female artist at the time but she has become the most celebrated. A painter of bibles stories and myths she gave a whole new slant to the depiction of female figures as we shall see when look at her work.