News and Events

20th May 2021 - A curiosity called Belarus?

Belarus is a little understood Slavic state, at times overshadowed by its much larger neighbour Russia, but with a discrete history and culture of its own.

During several visits to Belarus, Matthew Cawthorne gained a knowledge of and affection for this unusual country, described by Barack Obama as the “last dictatorship in Europe”.  For this talk, through a description of the history and culture of the area which is modern Belarus, Matthew communicates his passion for a country that is very much in the news.  

The talk finishes with a short pictorial quiz illuminating the impact that Belarus has had on the modern world. 

Matthew has travelled all over Belarus and will give a personal account of this curious and little understood country.  Matthew was 27 years a Royal Marine, of which a busy 18 months were spent as an arms control inspector, visiting the Russian-speaking countries of the East and escorting inbound inspections to Ministry of Defence bases in the United Kingdom and Germany.  

2pm, Thursday 20th May, via Zoom.

If you'd like to receive a Zoom invitation and link 
   (priority will be given to regular members of  the Group)


COVID-19 and health risks

UPDATE - March 2021
We are guided by Government restrictions and advice on how to safely hold indoor meetings and talks. Key to these guidelines is "social distancing" and good hygiene.

Our gatherings are by their nature "social" events, and at present we feel that many people would not enjoy the full experience of our meetings with the recommended controls and precautions in place. And we know also that some of you are not yet ready to risk mixing with other people if it isn't strictly necessary.

Therefore, in the short term, we will NOT be holding our regular in-person meetings, but will explore new alternatives such as Zoom.
We will post further news and any changes on this website. In the meantime, please keep in touch and email your own thoughts and ideas for the future.

The group traditionally has met once a month on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 2:00 pm. Meetings are conducted in English, and are held at the Downley Community Centre, School Close, High Wycombe, HP13 5TR.  

For more information, and how to find us, see the Maps page.

Review some of our previous presentations

to be rescheduled  Personal experiences of Ukraine and the Soviet Union

This illustrated talk will take a light-hearted but factual look at life in the Soviet Union, in Ukraine and elsewhere, exploring some of the peculiarities and occasional craziness of Soviet life.

The speaker, who has lived, worked and travelled across Ukraine for long periods during the last few years, will also talk about his own experiences in modern-day Ukraine  -  his travels, the people he has met, and what life is really like now in one of Europe's poorest countries.

An illustrated talk by Alan Taylor

2:00 pm, Thursday...  to be rescheduled  


Pretenders to the Russian throne
Between the 17th and early 20th centuries about 100 pretenders to the throne ‘samozvantsy’  appeared from time to time in Russia claiming to be tsars. The most famous was the False Dimitri in the time of troubles (smuta) but there were others as well. Ruth will tell us about some of them and the phenomenon of ‘pretenders’.

An illustrated talk by Dr Ruth Sobel

Open to everyone

Anyone may join in. The "Club" is an open group and all are welcome. To keep things simple, there is no membership fee, and no other formalities, other than a small entrance fee to cover costs. However, you may be included on our email distribution list if you care to provide an email address.
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Future meetings:  We would like to hear your thoughts and ideas for future activities. Tell us what you like, and don't like, and perhaps offer your experiences or expertise. Your input is an important part of our work to draw up a programme for the year ahead.