u3a - u3a matters Summer 2024 (2024)

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From Sharon Parsons Editor

Even though I’m welcoming you to this Summer edition of u3a Matters, I must begin with heartfelt thanks to the many u3a members who have made me feel so at home here. The team and I have been incredibly touched (and not a little relieved!) by all your kind messages and genuinely constructive thoughts about the new-look magazine. Our aim is to create what we hope will be a really valuable part of your u3a life, and we will continue to evolve the magazine as carefully and creatively as we can to meet that requirement. Talking of creativity, this issue is brimming with it! We talk to artistic members who take their talent and their sketchbooks outside to capture the world around them, meet the three worthy winners of the recent poetry competition, and marvel at the creative genius behind some of the most unique gardens in the country. Last but not least, there’s a timely reminder to all the clever fiction writers out there to submit your short stories for this year’s competition (see how to do so on page 19). Finally, thank you to all the members who have taken up our invitation to submit stories, share experiences, and offer good ideas for our new pages – be it a heartfelt memory, a smart observation, a favourite recipe or money-saving tip. This enthusiasm and generosity of spirit is, I’m realising, what makes being part of the u3a so special... Enjoy the issue!

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News and views to share what's been happening across u3a

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Team effort

Everything in the garden

This will be the third consecutive year that Southport u3a have wowed with their show garden design at the Southport Flower Show. For 2024, the innovative design by u3a member Phil Allison is one that celebrates the famous flower show’s centenary celebrations, and takes centre stage with the largest show garden. “The plan is for a generous 17-metre curved garden emulating a path from 1924 to the present day,” says Southport chair Chris Howorth. “It leads to five themed gardens that show how trends have changed: Victorian style, post-war utilitarian garden, 1970s rockery, 1990s Japanese themed garden, and finally a contemporary structured garden. u3a members who are on hand will be dressed in period costume – from flapper dresses to 1990s gear – to add a stylish flourish.” A team of 50 members have offered their services for growing, digging and planting; building pagodas, bridges and brick paths; meeting and greeting – and of course making tea. There will be just two weeks to build the five linked gardens, so ensuring the quality of the build and the planting is spot on cannot be underestimated. The Southport Flower Show is the largest independent UK garden show, competing with the RHS, and affectionately known as the Chelsea of the North. As it marks its 100th prestigious year, visitors can not only expect to see the best gardens on show – including the u3a gem, of course! - but a host of famous TV garden personalities and celebrity chefs, along with musical entertainment, competitions, tastings and more. Get your discount code Southport Flower Show is offering all u3a members £10 off gate tickets: buy before 31 July and use the promo code ‘u3a’ when purchasing an anyday ticket online. The price is £19 (instead of £29 ), plus free coach parking – please arrange in advance. For tickets and information, go to: southportflowershow.co.uk

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Find Friends Extra!

This exciting new initiative is already proving a hit with u3a members who are making the most of the great benefits it can offer – from health and wellbeing discounts, to access to financial and legal advice. If you haven’t done so yet, simply sign up to receive the Friends newsletter. We look forward to welcoming you.

  • u3a.org.uk/news/ newsletter

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All have a place

Susan Parker, trustee for the South West, and chair of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee, explains the aims of this important body.

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee believes there is strength in diversity, and actively works with u3as and their members to promote awareness, knowledge and understanding: our over-riding aim is to ensure that each and every member throughout the u3a is always confident of being accepted and welcomed. The work that we’re doing to achieve this vision started at grass-roots level. The EDI committee has now delivered a series of presentations to raise members’ personal awareness of equality, diversity and inclusion. We have also developed a presentation to ensure all u3as fully understand their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010, and are now able to share this with an individual u3a, a group of u3as, or a network. Some of our u3as have specific interest groups that might focus on a particular disability or impairment, and the challenges that may bring; others may have an LGBTQ+ group that aims to promote a better understanding within the wider community. These groups are open to any member, and various u3as will have different Interest Groups depending on the particular requirements and interests of the membership. We also host informal coffee morning meetings online so that members can share experiences with each other: topics such as mental health issues, economic disparity and accessibility are often discussed. There is much to be done, but this committed and enlightened approach is paving the way for a bright future where everybody has a place within the u3a.

  • For further information, go to: u3a-EDI-guidelines or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Online workshops

Here to help

The Trust, in partnership with Trust Volunteer Trainers, runs a number of online workshops open to all u3a members who want to become more involved in running their u3a. The workshops cover a range of important subjects: from what you need to know when joining your u3a committee and becoming a trustee, to information about managing u3a finances. They also cover recruitment of members and volunteers within your u3a, contingency planning and dealing with complaints and issues that might arise. Not least, the workshops provide an opportunity to meet, network and share ideas with u3a members from across the UK.

  • To find out more or to attend any of the online workshops please visit: u3a.org.uk/membersarea/ support/workshops

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Fundraising factors

We know how generous u3a members are: they are often keen to help other charities as well as their own. But when it comes to charity fundraising, the law can be tricky. Here are some useful reminders to help you keep it legal:

If you fundraise for another charity, it must have a similar object clause to your own.

If you do want to fundraise for another charity, through a quiz night for example, and it doesn’t have a similar charitable object to your u3a’s, it’s probably wise to make it a non-u3a activity.

You can fundraise for another charity at a u3a event, but make sure you keep the money raised totally separate as it shouldn’t go through the u3a’s accounts.

If a speaker at a u3a event asks for their fee to go to another charity, it’s best to pay the speaker and explain that they need to handle the donation themselves.

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Get involved!

Our chair, Liz Thackray, encouragesevery member to play their part in order to ensure the u3a continues to thrive.

One of the things I enjoy most in my current role is meeting u3a members. I have been able to visit most of the regions and nations and have just returned from a visit to north-east England where, among other things, I joined in craft groups, played board games, spoke German, learned about rock formations and shared in a quiz afternoon. It was a privilege to present a certificate to two of the founder members of Berwick u3a and to hear their stories of what the u3a means to them. However, conversations also show how much all of us sometimes need to remind ourselves of the fact that we all have a role to play in keeping the u3a movement alive and vibrant. We all know we’re a volunteer led, self-help, mutual aid organisation: we all have something to learn and something to teach. However, at times we may be reluctant to step forward when there is a job which needs doing. Recruiting committee members is a challenge for most u3as. There are reports of waiting lists to join groups because nobody is willing or able to start new groups and, very sadly, u3as are even closing. There are members who have been key members of their u3as for many years and now enjoy a well-earned break. However, there are also those who recognise the need, but hesitate to fill the gaps. Not everybody is a leader, of course, but most of us can make a cup of tea! We have been challenged to increase our membership by 25% by 2028. How are we ensuring there are groups for the new members to join?

  • Visit the section A Problem Shared to read some thoughts from members on this very issue.

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Life lessons


Liz Page, Crewe & Nantwich u3a’s

newsletter editor, finds joy in later life.


“You’ve won the jackpot,” I was once told by a Buddhist teacher. “You’re alive – and not only that, but as a conscious human being.” How very true. Celebrate this great gift of life while it lasts. I try to think of three things every day that I’m grateful for – not least being part of the u3a community.


It can be tempting to slow down in retirement, but as fitness guru Joe Wicks says: “Exercise always makes you happy, it lifts your mood and gives you energy.” Isn’t it funny how you feel less tired after a walk or exercise class, particularly with good companions. Thank you, lovely members of C&N u3a Short Walks group - it’s a pleasure to travel with you.


The longer you live, the more you

think you know. But join a u3a quiz

group and you realise just how much

knowledge you have yet to acquire!

Keep learning something new every

day – you might even dredge up the

answer in your next quiz session.

  • What are your Words of Wisdom? Send your three short and sweet thoughts to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Festival focus

u3a’s got talent! Save the date! 18-20 JULY 2024

With only weeks to go before the first-ever u3a Festival takes place at the University of York, Allan Walmsley, national u3a vice-chair, reveals more activities on the programme.

Across the movement, members leading groups and activities are very busy, and no wonder - there’s so much happening! The choir from Barnsley is a fantastic musical highlight, and will undoubtedly bring joy to the festival. We’re also thrilled to be ‘borrowing’ a Viking in full regalia from Jorvik Viking Centre for a wonderfully innovative portrait class, led by Jean Jackson, trustee for the West Midlands. Elsewhere, members are tuning up for our open mic session, and we can’t wait to enjoy all the many and varied talents coming this way – what a night that will be! Of course, many activities have had to be booked ahead, but there’s still plenty on offer for visitors to turn up and try – pétanque or music workshops, anyone? And there’s also a plethora of talks offering fascinating insights, whether you fancy artificial intelligence or Richard III, philosophy or theology... and so much more. See you all in York!

  • For more information, visit u3a.org.uk/events/festival-2024
    You can also contact us via email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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u3a Week

A chance to shine!

Our wonderful u3a Week is happening between 21 and 29 September 2024.

This is when u3as and networks across the UK will be hosting events to showcase all the activity, learning and fun that takes place across the movement every single day. Last year saw Up Holland & District u3a take part. Secretary Beth Turton describes u3a Week as “an opportunity to showcase what our u3a can offer in the local community”. They’ll be celebrating again this year with an open day offering sessions including ukulele, flower arranging, snooker and mah jong. For many u3as, this special week is a valuable opportunity to reach potential new members. In 2023, Littleborough u3a hosted an open afternoon, and in the space of just three hours, 38 people signed up. Seaton u3a had similar success with their dedicated event, which saw 24 new people join – a 10% increase in membership.

Our nationally coordinated event, Alfresco in Autumn, will be returning in 2024, and takes place on Friday 27 September. As the name suggests, this event encourages members to take the fun and learning of their u3a outside – whether through a u3a-wide event or an outdoor session for regular interest groups.

  • Find out more at: u3a.org.uk/ events/u3a-week. Let us know what your u3a is planning at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Great North Run

Meet our runners!

For the first time ever, u3a members will be taking part in the Great North Run to raise money for the Third Age Trust. The members of Team u3a will be training hard before the big day on 8 September 2024 – and we’re delighted to introduce you to them here: Ashley Pinder, who started running in 2018, the discovery was a revelation. He now runs five times a week, and leads a u3a running group. At the other end of the spectrum, there’s Newcastle u3a member Joyce Archibold who began running in the 1980s. By participating in the Great North Run, she wants to highlight “that there is a full, interesting and stimulating life after retirement and in later days”. Ken Bailey from Sidmouth u3a was living in north-east England when the Great North Run was founded in 1981, and local enthusiasm for the sport inspired him to try running. He hopes that the half-marathon will be an opportunity to raise the profile for Sidmouth u3a, which is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary. The final member of our terrific team is Southport u3a member Stephen Gagen, who is a keen runner, having run several half-marathons in the last few years. We wish our fabulous runners all the very best – and if you live in the region, do come out and support our team with cheers on the day.

  • To find out more, and discover how you can donate to help Team u3a reach its fundraising goals, go to u3a.org.uk/great-north-run

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A digital archive

A date to remember

The 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings on 6 June is being commemorated in memorable ways this year .

Ally Edwards of Evesham & District u3a, and a Third Age Trust volunteer, shares an important initiative: A great many u3a members around the country have been contributing to Their Finest Hour, a University of Oxford academic project that collects and digitally archives the everyday stories and objects of the Second World War. Launched on 6 June 2024, the free online archive is part of the 80th anniversary of D-Day commemorations. u3a members have contributed to keeping such valuable memories of the Second World War alive by uploading their own stories online and organising digital collections in their u3as to help others do so. “By recording the personal and everyday aspects and individual experiences of life in wartime communities, it broadens the historical coverage of the period and shows the true consequences of war from a very close and intimate perspective,” says David Goodin, a member of Isle of Sheppey u3a. “It counterbalances the more usual national consequences of war described in most history books and national records.”

  • To find out more go to: theirfinesthour.org

Opportunity to learn

Many u3as around the country are marking this historic event, including Botley, Hedge End & District u3a in Hampshire: the county was at the centre of D-Day operations and saw major troop embarkations. This u3a has organised a raft of activities - including days at the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth and Churchill’s home at Chartwell – all of which started with a presentation on events prior to the invasion by historian Jeremy Prescott. This was followed by a visit to the Operations Map Room at Southwick House where Operation Neptune was planned. “With so many of the D-Day factors originating from our part of the country, the u3a has given us a wonderful opportunity to collectively learn so much,” says Publicity Officer Carol Hussey.

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Sweet Caroline

Radio presenter and Bingham u3a member Nick Bailey recalls his time onboard Radio Caroline in the 1960s.

Nick Bailey is perhaps best known as the first voice of Classic FM, and may be familiar to u3a members as its podcast host from 2020 until September 2023. But his career started well before that, in the world of pirate radio in the 1960s. Nick joined Radio Caroline – which has just celebrated its 60th birthday – in 1966, two years after the station was set up by Ronan O’Rahilly. An up-and-coming record producer, Ronan represented a number of recording artists, including Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, but was unable to secure radio airtime as an independent producer. The concept was made possible by a legal loophole, which meant that anyone broadcasting more than three miles from the UK shoreline was deemed to be in international waters, and outside UK jurisdiction. It broadcast from two ships – Caroline North and Caroline South – playing all-day pop music as it sought to provide an alternative to the state-owned BBC stations and Radio Luxembourg. Working as a newsreader, Nick was initially onboard Caroline South before being switched to Caroline North. He worked on that ship for just under a year, until August 1967. “It was fantastic,” he says. “I was 19 and had been working in publicity at the Mermaid Theatre. When I got the job, I tripled what I was earning and didn’t pay any tax. We would have two weeks on and one week off.” Nick says he preferred working on Caroline North, where he spent most of his time with the station. “As the original Caroline ship, it was bigger, which meant that I got my own cabin,” he says. “But Caroline South was broadcast to London, which meant it would be heard by the powers that be, and that affected the atmosphere onboard. There were too many egos. “The north ship was much friendlier. We were operating off the Isle of Man, which is famous for its kippers, so we could have kippers for breakfast every day and we kept live chickens so we had fresh eggs. We had a beer and cigarette ration and they even did our dry cleaning for us.” He remembers his time on the ship with fondness and recalls the media interest. “It was very exciting because everyone was talking about us,” he says. “We were playing new records, such as A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum, which wouldn’t have been played on the BBC.” His time on the ship came to an end with the passing of the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act in August 1967, which made it illegal to broadcast – and advertise – on offshore radio. Radio Caroline was the only pirate station at the time to continue, based out of Ireland, but Nick decided it was time to move on. Realising he was unlikely to get a job in the UK given the monopoly of the BBC, he decided to emigrate to Australia, where his first radio job was in the outback, before presenting a late-night programme in Brisbane. He would go on to work for the British Forces Broadcasting Service and as a Hong Kong correspondent for Radio Five, before joining Classic FM in 1992, where he remained until 2017. He currently hosts a regular slot on Boom Light – the sister station to Boom Radio – where he can be heard on Sunday mornings. To learn more of Nick’s story, read his book Across the Waves: From Radio Caroline to Classic FM, available at nickbaileyradio.com.

  • To listen to Nick’s story in the June Podcast, go to u3a.org.uk/news. And if you have a story that would make an interesting podcast, do apply. Just go to: u3a/org.uk/news/ u3a-radio-podcast

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Diary dates

Online learning events

u3a runs a programme of web talks, workshops and events, as well as online initiatives for you to get involved with...


From Olympia, via Much Wenlock, to the world.

Learn about the journey from ancient Olympia (776 BCE) via Much Wenlock (1850) and Athens (1896), to the 33rd Olympiad in Paris in 2024. Presented by David Tordoff of Telford u3a.


Live cookery demonstration - summer recipes.

Chef Alex from ‘Vegetarian for Life’ demonstrates his delicious summer recipes live from his kitchen on Zoom, especially for u3a members.


Boost your digital confi dence: how

to overcome your mobile or tablet issues.

The charity AbilityNet’s expert trainer offers some simple tips and tricks to get back on track when things go wrong with your device.

  • For more events and to book those above, go to: u3a.org.uk/events

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Learning activities

To participate in, or contribute to, our learning activities, please go to: u3a.org.uk/learning/learning-activities.

Short story competition

The u3a national short story competition is back for its fifth year, and the judges are looking forward to seeing what creative writing talents members have to offer. The theme for this year’s competition is ‘Escape(s)’, and stories must be a maximum of 1,500 words. Enter by Monday 8 July 2024: go to u3a.org.uk/learning/learning-activities.

Find a u3a speaker

Looking for someone to come and talk to your u3a on a particular topic? Use our facility to search for speakers for either online or in person u3a talks, on a wide variety of subjects.

  • Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you require assistance accessing the activities, or would like help to set up a learning activity.

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This year’s nationwide events are gearing up for lots of good fun and learning opportunities. To discover more about the various agendas, here's where to go:


(20-22 August, Stirling Court Hotel). Simply email: summerschoolu3ascotland@

gmail.com, or text: 07565 934702.

YORKSHIRE & HUMBER REGION: (22-25 July, The Hawkhills, Easingwold). Get more information at: yahru3a.uk/summer-school


(2-5 September, University of Chichester). Find out more at: u3asites.org.uk/ southeastu3aforum/summerschool


(13-16 August, University of Cumbria), For further information, contact: alanhough1949@gmail. com, or call: 07544 359125.

More to enjoy...


Around 30 fantastic guided walks, along with gallery and museum visits have been planned over the summer months. For further information, go to: u3asites.org. uk/London-region/events


are planning a Bridge Congress hosted by Belfast u3a in September. Go to: u3ani.info, or for further information, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Interests: ART

Artistic licence

Whether you’ve only ever doodled or are a Van Gogh in the making, everyone is welcome at u3a’s flourishing art groups.

Most people remember how uninhibited they were as children creating art – and how enjoyable it was. But how many of us, who may not have picked up a pencil or paintbrush in decades, might feel more than a little nervous about trying such an artistic pursuit now? The prospect of capturing a subject on paper or canvas can seem daunting. But when it comes to producing art, literally anyone can have a go... and that’s what makes it so wonderful. Ask any u3a member who attends an art group what the benefits are, and the first thing they’re likely to say is, it’s fun. Add to that collaborative, sociable and supportive, and you begin to realise that successful art is about so much more than creating a ‘perfect’ picture – whatever that may be. Not least, the proven physical, mental and wellbeing advantages that such artistic activities provide for older people are huge. If you thought joining an art group was little more than sitting around a table with tea, biscuits and an assortment of artistic materials for a few hours every week, think again! These days, it’s a much more interactive and varied pursuit, with opportunities to get out and about, meet true creatives, visit inspirational places and learn so much along the way. Here we meet just a few u3a members who have recognised that painting and drawing can quite literally open up a world of inspiration.

Art al fresco

Sally Duggan is group leader of Wigan u3a’s Urban Sketching group “I volunteered to get our art group up and running when our u3a was established about seven years ago. I’d been a schoolteacher until I retired so I knew about organising things – though I wasn’t sure I could draw! “A lot of art groups sit inside to work, but I wanted to be out and about! I’ve always been intrigued by Urban Sketchers – a wonderful global community of sketchers who practise on-location drawing - so I said, “Okay, I’ll be at the park gates next week with my sketch pad and pencil if anyone wants to join me.” To my amazement, eight people turned up, and there was no going back! “There are now 19 of us, and we go out for a couple of hours every week. I try to be inclusive and consider venues for people who don’t drive or have mobility issues, so it’s somewhere everyone can enjoy. We’ve had to use a bit of ingenuity on miserable days, of course: the local library and swimming baths have big windows so we can sit and sketch from the inside. We also head out at least once a month – maybe to an art gallery or a National Trust property: we’ll sketch an aspect of it outside, then go in for a visit. “All of us offer support and inspiration to one another. Some members have a background in art, but others – like me! – started as complete beginners, but it really doesn’t matter. It’s very sociable, too: when we all go to a café or pub after a session, we get all our work out and take photos that we post on our WhatsApp group. It’s great when some members who are on holiday then post what they’ve been sketching while away. “As time has gone by, I’ve lost my self-consciousness: sketching outside is like a period of meditation for me – it’s completely absorbing.”

Give it a go!

Bill Forbes is a member of Perth u3a and a retired illustrator and designer.

“I have a lifetime interest in walking and climbing and now enjoy sketching outdoors in the same familiar environments,’ Bill says. “I’m sometimes approached by interested walkers who express a desire to draw but feel they have no creative talent. I firmly believe, though, that anyone who takes the time to really look closely at a subject or a scene will find that they can record their observations in an enjoyable way and get a great deal of satisfaction from doing so – have confidence and give it a go!” Here Bill debunks some of the reasons people give not to start sketching!

1. I can’t draw a straight line. Neither can anyone else - just trust your own individual style as it develops.

2. A white sheet of paper inhibits me.

Don’t use expensive paper or sketchbooks as you will be too nervous to draw freely. Allow for unintentional marks to happen. Keep drawing materials and techniques to a small number of favourites.

3. My final sketch is never very good.

Enjoy the experience of drawing as the main objective, without worrying about your final drawings. Keep all your efforts and take encouragement from the improvement. See your sketchbook as a learning tool, not a series of works of art. They are not meant for public display.

4. I don’t know about perspective.

Careful observation is much more important than perspective. However, even a very basic knowledge of the principles can help you to see the angles and volumes more clearly, but don’t allow this knowledge to inhibit your free approach to setting down what you see.

5. I don’t understand composition.

Forget about composition, just start to draw what you find most interesting and see what develops. You can add bits to get the balance you want at the end.

6. I am scared to get out and draw in public.

Snapping photographs in public places can sometimes be seen as aggressive or intrusive, but as sketching is a calmer process, it develops trust. If you avoid direct eye contact, even in very busy situations, you will not usually be approached. If you are, it’s most likely to be by someone who would like to get started with sketching as well.

Creative sessions

Barbara Bailey belongs to Devizes u3a andleads the Sketching for Pleasure group.

”I wasn’t allowed to do art at school – I had to study Latin instead – but I’d always wanted to try, so when we moved here in 2014, I joined an existing u3a Art group. Of course, I had a lot to learn, but I quickly discovered just how much I loved it, and when the group leader stepped down a few years’ ago, I took over temporarily as acting group leader but soon became committed to the role. ”Our group is really enthusiastic, and typically about 20 of us turn up at sessions held twice a month in the church hall. However, in the summer, we often take ourselves and our sketchpads off on an excursion to one of the many places of interest in this area. It feels like painting in the real world – not a still life in a studio, and I love trying to capture the scenery that’s all around us. ”We don’t have formal instruction as such, although occasionally someone in the art world – like a local gallery owner – will come and talk to us about an aspect of art. The main thing is that the group feels collaborative and fun, and we all help each other. ”We’ve introduced different mediums, such as charcoal, pastels, and pen and ink. It’s always interesting to see the different effects and results achieved, especially when we’re all painting or drawing the same subject. The hardest thing I’ve had to master is perspective. My husband trained as an architect, so it’s second nature to him, and he always finds it amusing that I struggle... but it doesn’t put me off!”.

A perfect study

If you ever wanted proof that inspiration is everywhere, look no further. The Spring cover of the new-look u3a Matters magazine, with a scene of sunrise through bluebell woods, was so arresting that one member couldn’t resist painting it! Brenda Clague has been leader of the Art group at co*ckermouth u3a for the last three years, and is a member of Keswick Society of Art. “I love sketching outdoors, and enjoy painting both landscapes and seascapes where I live in Cumbria” she says. “I loved the ‘freshness of spring’ feeling of this cover, and used watercolours to capture it.’.

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How to make simpler, better - and more enjoyable.

Life laundry

Tame your tech

Expert advice on decluttering devicesand sorting electrical spaghetti.

If you have a drawer, box or cupboard full of wires, cables, adaptors and more – and you’re not even sure what they’re all for – you’re not alone. According to e-waste experts REPIC, over 20 million unused but working gadgets worth an estimated £5bn are cluttering up UK homes. Selling them could raise £200 per household. The company’s research also suggests we’re hoarding 18.6 million broken gadgets. It doesn’t help that tech companies can’t make up their mind when it comes to connections either. There are at least eight different types of USB cable available today, and despite an EU switch to a single charging solution by the end of 2024, this won’t extend to laptops until spring 2026 and relates to new gadgets only. “We’re surrounded by electronics, and with new technology arriving all the time, it is inevitable homes get a bit busy with them,” says Siân Pelleschi, president of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers. “How often do we come across rogue electronics and cables in drawers or cupboards that are no longer in their designated containers, and we then have to assess what they are, and whether they’re still fit for purpose? Sometimes we just don’t know what to do with it all. Reducing the hoard so that there is only one of each is key, unless it’s something like a phone charger where having a backup is useful.” But how to to start – literally – unravelling it all? We’re going in...

Sort into categories

Separating your cables and putting like with like means you will start to see the bigger picture of what you have (so, for instance, put anything connected to mobiles, computers, cameras, HDMI and so on into separate piles). That way you can start making choices regarding what to keep and what to let go of, especially if you’re doubling up. “Label the cables, gadgets and devices so you know what they each marry up to, and if possible keep with the electronics or kit they belong to,” says Siân. “Keep everything that is related in labelled containers, then store these in one designated, easily accessible place so nothing can go astray.”

Decide what to keep

When it comes to gadgets themselves, start by checking if they’re in working condition. Do you still have the cables that belong to it and know where they are? (Or can you at least identify them?) If you’re not sure whether or not an item should go, check whether you can get hold of another if you discard it but later down the line need a replacement. A quick search online or getting advice from a specialist store or company will help. We hoard for different reasons. Perhaps something has sentimental value or it is potentially collectible. Siân’s killer test for this is to ask yourself: “If you can’t or aren’t using it, then why does it have a place in your home?” Another tried and tested tip is to put all the components of a piece of kit into a labelled container, with the day’s date on it... If you haven’t actively wanted it one year on, it’s likely you never will.

Resolve to be organised!

When you get a new device or piece of kit, start as you mean to go on. You’re unlikely to want to keep original bulky boxes and packaging, so take the time to unpack and clearly label all the components, and then put everything in a labelled container or resealable plastic bag, along with the instruction manual and official documents, receipts and guarantees.

Time to get rid?

1. Sell. Start by checking sites like eBay to see if there is a market for selling your item – old mobile phones are deemed ‘retro’ these days, and some models fetch attractive amounts. Car boot sales can still be effective, but refrain from selling on social media – it’s a minefield of privacy intrusion and scammers. Check with retailers when replacing old with new. Some offer credit in exchange for old electronics.

2. Recycle. E-waste is tricky to discard safely, but recycling can turn trash into cash thanks to valuable components and rare earth materials. Websites like compareandrecycle.co.uk compare recyclers and refurbishers to offer you a price for your old tech. Otherwise, check with your local council for the safest and easiest way to get rid.

3. Donate. If you’re part of a local community group or have a trusted network of friends, check if they need a spare or replacement. It’s also worth enquiring with charities or charity shops as to whether they take electronics. In some cases they may be able to recycle on your behalf, in others they may resell working devices in-store.

4. Transfer. Old devices may contain sensitive or sentimental data, documents and pictures – you won’t want these to fall into the wrong hands or be lost forever. Transferring data can be daunting, but try cloud computing services like Google Drive that securely store your documents so they’re easily accessible online.

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Smart ideas

Great buys and clever tips.

Growing well

The National Growing for Wellbeing Week (5-11 June) is an annual celebration that recognises the huge benefits that nurturing plants and connecting with nature can have on our mental and physical wellbeing. (Although, of course, it’s not just for that one week – it’s a perennial benefit!) Not least, the event highlights the benefits of engaging with others and cultivating a sense of community in a garden environment. Here are just a few ways u3a members can get involved: Start a community garden These shared spaces are a wonderful way to come together with like-minded people through learning, collaborating and sharing activities. Could your u3a establish something special in your community? Involve youngsters It’s well known that nurturing a connection with nature from an early age fosters a deep, lifelong appreciation of the natural world. Encourage children to enjoy gardening activities, planting projects and nature walks – perhaps working with local schools. Share your knowledge If your u3a doesn’t already have a gardening group – but you’ve got a lot of green-fingered enthusiasts – come together to share know-how on an organised basis. Not least, you could visit some of the wonderful gardens open to the public (visit the Good Times section for just a few) to be inspired.

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Add a glow

Lighting up your outdoor space isn’t just a security consideration, it can create a lovely ambience too. Nanoleaf Outdoor String Lights are brand new smart bulbs that work with an app so you can schedule them to turn on and off, plus the controls cover everything from brightness and myriad colour choices to animated scenes should you want to jazz things up. The LEDs are lowenergy, and expansion packs are available to extend their reach.

  • Pick up a 15m starter pack for £89.99 from nanoleaf.me.

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Power of ping pong

Did you know that the International Olympic Committee believes ping pong is one of the most popular sports in the world? Better still, it’s a sport for all ages and physical attributes: as well as improving hand-eye coordination and reflexes, it’s easy on the joints, burns calories and keeps the brain sharp. However, not everyone has the space or budget for a full-blown table. Brands like Cornilleau carry a range of bat, ball and net accessories for converting existing dining or garden tables.

  • You can either buy individually or pick up a starter pack from £64.95. See uk.cornilleau.com

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On-the-go apps to try

Smartphone shortcuts for travelling at home and abroad.

GoMo World

Data roaming charges can rack up eye-watering mobile bills when you’re overseas. GoMoWorld could save you from getting stung by keeping you connected for less in 170+ countries. For a few euros, it promises hassle-free online connectivity with no contracts, subscriptions or hidden charges.

  • From €3.99pm, iOS/Android, gomoworld.com

Flush Toilet Finder

A reduction in public loos can cause anxiety and real issues when you’re out and about. Flush Toilet Finder pinpoints the nearest public lavatory, and even gives you directions on how to get there.

  • Free, iOS/Android, jrustonapps.com/apps/ flush-toilet-finder


This cityslicker calls itself the ‘ultimate transport app’, promising to get you from A to B in the quickest, cheapest or healthiest way possible. Covering 400 major global cities, it untangles confusing mass transit systems, provides wheelchair-, luggage- and pramaccessible routes, and includes offline maps to download over wifi before leaving home or a hotel.

  • Free, iOS/Android, citymapper.com

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Rich Pickings

The ever-popular tomato is technically a fruit, not a vegetable, and there are believed to be some 15,000 varieties worldwide. It’s a fantastic, versatile ingredient that can be used in so many ways.

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The recipe I return to:

Rich and slow tomato sauce

Sally Shaw from Crouch End u3a’s Real Food group recommends this flavoursome tomato sauce. She says: “We have an allotment, and this is a great way to use up a glut of tomatoes – it’s a recipe I’ve shared with so many friends. If you love it too, you might want to invest in a tomato press to make the prep quicker and easier. This recipe makes plenty, and can be frozen in portions until needed.”


You will need a large saucepan or casserole dish to make the sauce.

2 medium-sized onions, chopped

1-2 tbsps olive oil

A good pinch mixed dried herbs

2.5kg vine tomatoes

250g cherry tomatoes

1 tin chopped organic plum tomatoes

30g sundried tomatoes

3 cloves finely-chopped garlic


1. Sweat the onions gently in the olive oil without colouring, then add the dried herbs.

2. Meanwhile, remove the skin and seeds from the vine tomatoes (the seeds can add a bitter flavour and the skin is an unwanted texture).

3. Stab with a sharp knife and drop into boiling water for 30 seconds.

4. Skin and quarter the cherry tomatoes. Scrape out the seeds.

5. Add all the tomatoes to the pan with the onions, including the tinned and sundried, along with the garlic.

6. Cook for approximately four hours over a very low heat until the sauce has reduced and thickened: it will develop an intense tomato flavour.

7. Cool, then refrigerate or freeze as required in portion-sized tubs.


Remove the calyxes (tops) from the tomato stems and add these to the sauce to give additional flavour. Remove when the sauce is cooked.

Drop in any leftover parmesan rinds when you make the sauce: remove after cooking.

Omit the sundried tomatoes – add about 2cm grated ginger; a bunch of basil; or 1-2 tsps of chilli flakes.

  • Send your top recipe to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Saucy suggestions

Here are a few ideas for using portions of the delicious tomato sauce:

Amatriciana sauce: sauté some pancetta or chopped streaky bacon in a pan until golden before adding to the tomato sauce.

Puttanesca sauce: when heating the sauce, add a couple of finely chopped anchovies, a few chopped and stoned olives, a spoonful of capers (optional) and 1-2tsps of chilli flakes towards the end.

Chorizo sauce: add some sautéed chorizo for a rich, spicy variation (this one is not suitable for freezing).

Creamy sauce: add a dash of double or single cream when you add pasta to the sauce.

Pizza: spread sauce on a pizza base before adding toppings.

Patatas bravas: add smoked paprika to a portion of tomato sauce. Serve on top of roasted cubed potatoes.

Another one to try.

Gazpacho with bell peppers.

Home economist Beverley Jarvis, from Ashford & Wye u3a, suggests a refreshing summer soup that makes the most of ripe tomatoes.

This version of the famous ish soup includes a dash of red pepper sauce for extra zip, and a drizzle of honey to override any acidity. Perfect for summer entertaining, it can be made a day in advance and kept chilled in the fridge until ready to serve.


1 red pepper

1 yellow pepper

A little sunflower or olive oil

450g ripe tomatoes

1 clove garlic, crushed

½ large cucumber

Salt and pepper to season

Juice ½ lemon

Small bunch coriander leaves

Drizzle of honey

A little hot pepper sauce

To serve:

Reserved chopped cucumber, sprigs of dill or coriander leaves


1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C, 180C fan, Gas 6, or pre-heat the air-fryer to 200C. Spray or brush the whole peppers all over with a little oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 30 mins, until skins blacken. (Alternatively, place in the air-fryer basket and air-fry for about 20 minutes, turning peppers after 15 minutes.) The skins should be charred black in places.

2. Remove peppers using tongs and transfer to a freezer bag. Set aside to cool. The skins will then slip off easily and the peppers can be roughly chopped. Discard the skins and the seeds.

3. Meanwhile, blanch the tomatoes by placing in a large mixing bowl and covering with boiling water. Set aside for 2 minutes, then drain and refresh with cold water. The skins will then slip off easily. Chop the skinned tomatoes, discarding any tough cores.

4. Chop the cucumber into small cubes, and reserve about ¼ to use as a garnish.

5. Place all ingredients, except for the hot pepper sauce, into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, then add hot pepper sauce to taste.

6. Chill for several hours or overnight. Serve cold, garnished with a little extra chopped cucumber and a sprig of dill or coriander leaves.

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u3a members share their poignant, inspiring and illuminating memories and experiences.


A musical legacy

Thanks to modern technology, Mike Tudball of Romsey u3a has been able to give new life to the long-forgotten compositions of his musical grandfather.

Back in 2020, just before the pandemic, a cousin of mine unearthed a box of musical scores and manuscripts composed by my paternal grandfather, John Henry Tudball. Born in 1882, he had been a miner in the Rhondda and, to be honest, I didn’t really know much about him. He died at the age of 74 when I was only four or five, and my father rarely talked about him. This was a great shame because, as it transpired, JH (or Jack, as he was known) was a man of considerable talent. Despite the fact that he excelled at maths and was clearly very musical, when Jack left school he followed in his father’s footsteps and went to work in the Scotch Colliery in Llwynypia. He remained a miner all his working life, living in the terraced houses above the mine. Nevertheless, he made the most of his musical gift: in his spare time, he played the church organ and conducted a ladies choir, and would earn extra money by playing at dance halls or accompanying silent movies at the local cinema. In 1909, he was awarded the ALCM Diploma (Associate of the London College of Music). Coincidentally, I was preparing for that too, but university entrance exams created a conflict and I went on to study maths instead. Jack also composed his own music such as waltzes, foxtrots and even a sonata, along with quirky songs that were played at the popular local music halls of that time: we were to discover that one vaudeville act, The Two Bobs, even recorded one of them called, intriguingly, Where Does a Sausage Grow? I was so curious to hear what these pieces sounded like, I decided to record them on some special DAW (digital audio workstation) software I had been dabbling with. However, although I play the piano, the music I recreated is all synthesised, and it actually turned out to be very timeconsuming as I had to transcribe each piece note by note into the computer. Nevertheless, it was quite extraordinary to hear these impressive scores gradually come to life after so many years. The recordings prompted an older cousin, who had lived in the same house as our grandfather, to send me more of his music, and eventually I recorded three CDs for the wider family to enjoy. That Sausage song, in particular, was to play an especially important part in the process. Once I’d recorded the piano score, I asked two friends who are singers, Chris Breach from Carrick u3a and Eleri Llian Rees from Cardiff, if they would record the lyrics. They did so separately using just their mobile phones, and my task then was to combine both women’s voices with the recorded piano music. It took a long time to do, not least because I had to transpose down a little to accommodate both voice ranges. The end result, however, made it all worthwhile – although anyone who listens says it’s a song you can’t get out of your head once you’ve heard it! In fact, many people have heard it now. In a strange twist of fate, a couple of years ago a broadcaster called John Geraint who makes a regular podcast on Rhondda Radio picked it up, and did a wonderful piece about my grandfather’s life, accompanied by that recording of Where Does a Sausage Grow? Even a second cousin living in Australia heard it and got in touch! It was quite strange and moving to imagine Jack’s song drifting across the valley where he had lived all those years ago, and where he had originally written it... I often wonder what he would have made of that!

  • If you’d like to listen to the podcast – and the Sausage song ! – you can access it by typing the following into your web browser: bit.ly/Spotify-JohnOnTheRhondda

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Family history

A long way from home

Born to a British mother and an Indian father, Pratima Shaw (née Guha) from Ilkley u3a has lived most of her life in England. But it could have been very different had her mother not made a brave decision...

A t the turn of the century, my paternal great grandparents lived in a farming area in what is now Bangladesh but back then, before partition in 1947, was called East Bengal. It was a place where Hindus, Muslims and Christians all lived together. One of their seven sons was my grandfather, who became a lawyer in Daca, the capital of East Bengal. Although he worked in the courts and was well qualified, his career could only reach a certain level, predetermined by the British administration. My grandfather and grandmother had seven sons and five daughters, which was quite common in those days, and one of their sons, called Pratap, was my father. He was encouraged to leave India and, after getting a degree from Calcutta (Kolkata) University, chose to continue his studies at Manchester University. He lived near to my mother Edith in the Whalley Range and Old Trafford area, and in 1932 the two met and romance blossomed. When my brother Ramone was born in 1934, my maternal grandmother and grandfather insisted on their marriage. My mother’s brothers were rather prejudiced at the time, but her elder sister Amy was supportive. She found a council house in Wythenshawe for them, which had been built for those who had to leave central Manchester after the First World War had ended. She tried hard to find my father a job after his graduation, but it was difficult in the depression years of the 1930s. He returned to India soon after I was born in 1935. After two years, he sent for us. My mother left her home in Manchester and all her family for India with two small children at the end of 1937. She would have had no idea what India was like at that time. After two years apart and with the difference in culture between the varied and free lives of English women and the more restrictive, male-dominated lives of India, it was always going to be challenging. My mother found life in India very tough, with basic facilities and criticism instead of support from my father and his family. Her letters back home to Amy became increasingly distressed. My aunt started to plan how to help and, with the support of the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) in Calcutta, prepared an escape. The WVS helped my mother leave while my father was at work. She took a bare minimum of things and us, her two children, on a train to Madras (now Chennai), where we would get a boat back to England, financed by my maternal grandmother’s savings. Despite the urgency and serious circ*mstances, my mother decided a little shopping was necessary, so once we were on board, she left us with a steward while she headed to the markets of Aden. I remember feeling the boat start to move and my heart missing a beat as she hadn’t returned. Fortunately, the captain saw my mother running towards the quay and stopped the boat. I’m not sure how we would have explained that adventure to my grandma back in England!

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Remembering John Arlott

John Gardner of Winchester u3a recalls the legendary cricket commentator whose matchless delivery made him the voice of the game.

One day, when I was about 11, my father spent ages twiddling the knobs on our radiogram, searching for the cricket. Eventually he found the sweet spot and a tinny voice came through, as though speaking on a telephone. But what a voice. I have never heard another like it and it transformed my life. This was the first time I heard John Arlott, and thereafter he accompanied me on the endless summers of youth. He painted pictures with words, pictures like no other. He introduced me to the drama of Test cricket and described for me every Test venue in England. Through Arlott, I developed an increasing love of the game, and his mastery of words encouraged me to write. This was no mean feat in those days for a left-handed schoolboy with a fountain pen. Arlott had a style, a delivery, a vocal quality and a feel for words that no one before or since has ever possessed. More than that, he had the poet’s gift of observation and the ability to convert what he saw into memorable prose. And if you were listening at the ground on a transistor radio, that meant he told you what you had just missed! So, what did Arlott sound like? It almost defies description but imagine, if you will, a cello that spoke with a Hampshire accent: a dark, warm voice with a clarity of diction and a command of language that others could only envy. Of course, Arlott didn’t work alone. There was an outstanding commentary team and a brilliant radio producer in Peter Baxter, who took charge of Test Match Special in 1973. He turned rain breaks into an art form. I remember a one-day international at Lords in the 1970s, when the ground staff spent the whole of John Arlott’s 20-minute commentary period removing the covers. And it was sheer entertainment. He could talk about anything and make it interesting. You could fill a book with Arlott’s colourful descriptions, but two of my favourites concern Jim Fairbrother, the head groundsman at Lords; and the great West Indian Clive Lloyd. He described Fairbrother as “a big man who walks gently on the Lord’s turf”. And of Lloyd hitting a six in the 1975 World Cup final: “The stroke of a man knocking the top off a thistle with a walking stick.” Arlott was also a master of television commentary, of which he did far too little. He was a man of words who knew the value of silence, allowing time for viewers to think and pictures to speak.

  • Do you have a story to tell us about your life? Send it to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Mark your email: STORIES TOSHARE

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Your good health

Keep mind, body and soul strong, active and happy with the latest news, expert tips and members' inspiration.

Six surprising healthy food swaps.

Small changes can make a big difference to your overall diet. By cutting back on sugar, salt and fat, you can make almost any meal or snack healthier without compromising on flavour. Even just one or two everyday swaps can make each day that bit healthier. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, reduce your blood pressure or cholesterol, reach your five-a-day, or just eat more nutritious foods, these simple swaps can help support your health goals.

1. Swap ice-cream for frozen banana. For an alternative to ice-cream that’s lower in saturated fat, sugar and calories, peel overripe bananas, put into freezer bags and freeze for at least one hour, then blitz in a food processor until smooth. You could add a little milk if you’d like a creamier texture.

2. Swap smoothies and juices for whole fruit. Blending or juicing fruits breaks down the fibre they contain, releasing fructose, a naturally occurring sugar: drinking fruit juice causes an immediate sugar spike and counts as ‘free sugars’. However, when we eat whole fruits, it takes a while for our digestive system to break their fibre down and for fructose to enter the bloodstream. The World Health Organization recommends that adults have no more than 30g of free sugar – the equivalent of 150ml of fruit juice – a day. It’s also worth remembering that pure, unsweetened fruit juice and smoothies will only ever count as one of your five-a-day, no matter how much you drink.

3. Swap a packet of crisps for roasted, spiced nuts. For a tasty snack that’s lower in saturated fat and salt than crisps, try tossing raw nuts in a little olive oil, chilli powder and cayenne. Then roast them in the oven (around 200C, 180 fan, gas mark 6) for about 8 minutes until they’re deliciously crunchy.

4. Swap red meat for red kidney beans. Eating foods that are high in soluble fibre, such as kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas, can help lower your cholesterol levels. Next time you make a chilli or bolognese, try replacing half the mince with kidney beans or lentils, or half the chicken in a curry with chickpeas.

5. Swap salt for herbs and spices Eating too much salt can cause high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. You can drastically reduce your salt intake by adding flavour to dishes with herbs and spices, black pepper, garlic, chilli or lemon juice instead. Soups, ratatouille, casseroles and bolognese can be given an instant lift with herbs such as rosemary, oregano and bay leaves. Garam masala or paprika can be sprinkled onto roasted vegetables or potatoes to give them an extra hit of flavour. Sprinkle sumac over salads, fish, rice or grilled meat, or use turmeric and ginger in meat, rice and vegetable dishes.

6. Swap cream for Greek yogurt. Yogurt is high in calcium and protein and has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease. Use it to replace mayonnaise in sandwich fillings or homemade dips. It can also be substituted for cream in sauces and curries, or served with apple pie or fruit crumble in place of custard or cream.

Smart substitutes

1. Choose turkey mince – it’s a leaner alternative to cooking with beef, lamb or chicken. Use it to make delicious burgers, meatballs, bolognese or tacos – you can hardly tell the difference.

2. Replace fried-bread croutons with roasted chickpeas for a healthy, protein-packed, fibre-filled boost to your salads or soups.

3. Swap white rice or couscous for cauliflower rice. Finely chop or pulse cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles grains of rice and enjoy raw in a salad, or gently warm through and flavour with your favourite herbs and spices.

4. Ditch rich calorie-laden mayonnaise for a lighter dressing made from natural yoghurt spiked with fresh herbs, garlic and lemon juice, or swirled with rose harissa.

5. Go 50/50 with pasta and veg: try combining spaghetti with spiralised squash or courgette, or substitute a layer of lasagne for roasted peppers or griddled courgette slices.

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Eyes right

While many of us are likely to experience both common eye issues and perhaps more serious eye conditions as we get older, there are still simple everyday steps we can take to protect both vision and eye health .

Many eye conditions don’t present with instant symptoms, so don’t assess eye health on how well you think you can see.Have regular eye checks.

“As you get older, your eyes are much more susceptible to change and developing conditions like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts,” says optometrist Sheena Tanna-Shah. “People over the age of 60 should have eye tests every two years, and over the age of 70 this should be annually. Eye examinations should also be more frequent if you have a family history of glaucoma, have diabetes or if your optometrist has advised monitoring your eyes more frequently because they have detected eye conditions such as cataracts.”

Get correctly prescribed

Wearing glasses with outdated prescription lenses – or using someone else’s – is likely to cause eye strain. It also risks misjudging distances or tripping on obstacles. Similarly, as we age, it’s not a good idea to buy over-the counter glasses with standard lenses – one size certainly does not fit all. If your optician recommends you need glasses – or a change in lenses - they must give you a prescription showing the type and strength of lenses required now. However, you can take this away with you to buy glasses from any supplier you choose.

Shade your eyes

Sheena says: “Ultraviolet [UV] rays are harmful to the eyes, causing conditions like cataracts, external eye pathology and macular degeneration. Even on cloudy days, the sun still emits UV light, which penetrates clouds. If you’re outside, always protect your eyes from UV rays with good-quality sunglasses or photochromic lenses.”

Nourish your vision

As we age, many eye conditions can be exacerbated by increased oxidative stress – an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. “Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can be particularly beneficial,” says registered nutritional therapist Alex Allan. “When our grandmothers told us carrots could help us see in the dark, it wasn’t entirely an old wives’ tale,” he says. “The phytonutrients they contain have been shown to help our bodies fight the free radicals that can lead to oxidative stress. “These nutrients are also found in butternut squash and in leafy green veg, such as kale, parsley and spinach.

Common issues

Long sightedness

As we get older, the lenses in our eyes thicken and slowly lose their flexibility, making it difficult to see things that are very close. However, longsightedness can usually be treated with glasses or contact lenses. Your optometrist can give you advice on the best options to suit you.

Floaters and flashes

These are usually caused by a harmless process called posterior vitreous detachment, where the gel inside the eyes change. Over time, however, the brain learns to ignore floaters in the eyes. The floaters may also settle to the bottom of the eye and move out of the centre of your vision. Occasionally, they can be a sign of retinal detachment – a serious condition that requires urgent treatment. If you see new floaters, they are accompanied by fl ashing lights, or part of your vision becomes dark, check with your optometrist without delay.

Dry eyes

Increased screen use, menopause and ageing are just some of the things that can cause dry eye disease. If you notice your eyes watering or tearing up, or feeling gritty, blurry or uncomfortable, you may have dry eyes, and should seek professional advice.

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Health notes

News and views from the world of wellbeing.

What are you taking?

A u3a member wrote recently to explain that when she fell unexpectedly ill and was bedridden for several days, her ailing husband was looked after by close relatives. It quickly became apparent that only she – as his main carer – had been fully aware of the plethora of prescribed medicine and over-the-counter treatments that he required every day, causing a lot of confusion and upset. “As soon as I was well

enough, I created a simple spreadsheet to ensure everyone was in the picture,” she explains. “Now I also make sure that the record is regularly updated, and I keep it in the box with all his medicine so it can be easily found and referred to.” This idea is not just useful for carers: a comprehensive list of medicines and treatments also provides a quick and efficient way for health professionals who may be unfamiliar with a patients’ medical history to immediately gain a clear understanding of what is being taken on a regular basis, if circ*mstances make it necessary. To help everyone stay on track, make a note of all the medications you – or the person(s) you care for – regularly take, including over-the-counter drugs, eye and ear drops, ointments and creams, patches and inhalers. Don’t forget to include any vitamins, dietary supplements and herbal products as well.

Man up!

Men’s Health Week take s place from 10-1 6 June. It aims to shine a spotlight on preventable health issues and encourage men to see their GP and have a check-in with their physical and mental wellbeing. Breaking taboos and sharing stories is a key way of urging men to take control of their health.

Time well spent

Having active hobbies in later life leaves people happier and healthier, research has found. Scientists from University College London and universities in Japan studied how often people engage in some kind of pastime – from sport, gardening and charity work to chess, sudoku and reading. Participants were asked how healthy and happy they felt and to rate their general “life satisfaction”. The study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, said: “Analysis of the findings revealed that having a hobby was associated with fewer depressive symptoms, better self-reported health, more happiness and higher life satisfaction, with life satisfaction most consistently related to hobbies.”

Why I do...

Nordic walking.

Nordic Walking Subject Adviser Pauline Lenney is a member of Lancaster & Morecambe u3a. She explains why it’s such a great activity for all ages and fitness levels. “Nordic walking has provided me with the perfect transition from running, allowing me to work out aerobically outdoors all year round. “This is a total body exercise that engages your arms and shoulders more than normal walking does. It involves applying force to specially designed walking poles with each stride, propelling you forward as you walk. “After I retired I trained to become a Nordic walking instructor because I wanted to use my skills as a teacher, mentor and leader. I set up the Nordic Walking group in Lancaster and Morecambe u3a in 2020. I’ve recently become a u3a Subject Adviser because I hope to spread the word and help other u3a groups to get started!”

  • For more information, contact Pauline at lmu3a This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Experts on call

In our organisation, there are a wealth of national Subject Advisers who offer valuable expertise, knowledge and support to group leaders and members. We meet three to discover more.

Flying high

Clynt Perrot is Subject Adviser for Aviation and a member of Swindon u3a.

When did you become involved with u3a?

I joined the Swindon u3a, where I belong to the Aviation group, shortly after I retired in 2009. I was responsible for producing the group’s newsletter between 2013 and 2023 and was deputy leader for four years before taking over as group leader in April 2022.

How did your interest in aviation begin?

I have no professional background in aviation. My enthusiasm for the subject is long-standing though, and started when my dad used to take me and a friend on day trips to Heathrow when we were young boys back in the late 1950s. I am also a keen photographer, which slots in well with my interest in aircraft. As a member of the Britten-Norman Aircraft Preservation Society, I was involved in a 13-year project completed in 2023 to restore the Britten Norman Islander light aircraft G-AVCN, or ‘Charlie November’.

Are there any approaches to running groups that you have found to be particularly successful?

Aviation is a huge subject, so I would recommend trying to include topics from the past, present and even the future. As with any group, it’s important to make sure you avoid trying to do it all yourself and involve other members. I believe one of the most important aspects of u3a is what I would describe as ‘fellowship’: the fact that members are able to turn up to a meeting not just to be entertained, but to also spend time chatting about the subject. While it can seem daunting at first, I think it’s important to try to arrange a programme of speakers or events at least one or two meetings in advance. This can be given to the members either by email or via a simple printed sheet.

How do your own group sessions work?

The Swindon Aviation group has 63 members, of whom up to 50 attend fortnightly meetings at a local community hall. We arrange for speakers on a variety of aviation-related subjects, as well as allowing time to talk among ourselves over a cup of tea or coffee – with the all important biscuits! In fact, I find that one of the most important things at the meetings is simply ‘social time’ - getting together before, at a mid-point or after the meeting so that everyone can gather. Again, it helps the organiser if one or more other members are willing to look after the refreshments and make certain that the cost is shared. One idea for a meeting that is usually popular is an aviation-themed quiz. I can provide one that’s ready-made, which organisers can use to get ideas or even use, part use or modify as they wish.

How can u3a members contact you?

Initial contact with me is via u3a.org. uk/learning/subjects/aviation on the u3a website, where you can also find advice on running a group. I’m happy to send out additional advice or discuss ideas further.

Science for life

Barbara Odell is Subject Adviser for Science and a member of Brunswick, West Hove & Portslade u3a.

How did you get involved with u3a and become a Subject Adviser?

Following retirement, I joined Brunswick, West Hove & Portslade u3a and since 2018 I’ve run its first Science, Medicine and Technology (SMT) group. (I also run an Exploring Art group and am a member of the Mixed Media Art group and Wordweavers, in which we examine biographical aspects of our lives.)

Where did your interest in science stem from?

Probably from the age of five, when I lived in South Africa and collected flower petals for isolating perfumes. I was also interested in the night sky, looking at the Moon and Saturn through my brother’s telescope. An inspiring chemistry teacher performed amazing reactions with different colours, smells and even big bangs from the sort of chemical explosions that teachers nowadays are probably not allowed to demonstrate!

What part has the subject played in your life?

My career focused on chemical research. I’m a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and I was involved in more than 80 published research papers on a range of subjects. After completing a BSc, PhD and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Leeds, I entered industry with the medical equipment company Smith & Nephew. Subsequent moves took me to Standard Telecommunications Laboratories, where I was involved with solid-state electronic ceramics, then Shell Research Laboratory, working on research into crop protection and alternative forms of energy. When the lab closed, I trained as a teacher before joining the speciality chemicals company Albright and Wilson in Birmingham, researching the properties of organophosphorus chemicals. Between 1999 and 2016, I re-entered academic life as NMR spectroscopy service manager at the University of Oxford’s Chemistry Research Laboratory, elucidating the structures and properties of compounds with potential pharmaceutical and speciality chemical applications.

What fascinates you about the subject today?

Science in all areas moves at a rapid rate. The pace of innovation never slows, and the impact of these breakthroughs will redefine the way we live, work and connect with the world around us.

What approaches to organising a group work well?

The principal aim is to make members aware of advances in science, medicine and technology that will affect all our lives, as well as those of our children and grandchildren. Physical meetings work as long as group leaders are experienced in a scientific discipline and there are members willing to tackle interesting and often complex topics. A more effective approach is online meetings so that invited experts from academia and industry can present recent advances in their work. A surprising number are willing to do this free of charge. My own group has had meetings on a wide range of subjects, from quantum computing and the James Webb space telescope to the future of farming and how Covid-19 vaccines were developed.

  • Members interested in joining or starting a u3a Science group can find more advice and contact me if they’d like to via u3a.org.uk/learning/ subjects/science-2

Language in action.

Sylvia Duffy is Subject Adviser for French and a member of Ludlow u3a .

What’s behind your interest in French?

As a child I lived in Surrey and we would go on family cycling holidays around Europe. I felt a particular affinity with France and French culture, and went on to study the language at Liverpool University. I trained as a teacher and joined an 11-18 school in County Durham where I became the sixth-form French specialist. A post-to-post exchange with a French secondary school gave me the opportunity to live and work in Lonsle- Saunier in Jura. I also organised annual twinning visits with our partner school near Amiens. Later, I taught at a further education college in Sunderland, then with the Open University’s French department. After leaving full-time teaching I completed a PhD at Durham University.

How do you put it to practical use, and how did you get involved with u3a?

I joined the u3a in Ludlow after my partner and I moved here following retirement. I belong to local French and Italian conversation groups and I coordinate the French Literature group, where we read a modern novel and meet monthly for discussions. As well as travelling to France regularly to see family and friends, my involvement with the Ludlow French Twinning group means I get the opportunity to visit our twin town of La Ferté Macé in Normandy.

What do you think makes a language group successful?

The tendency in any learning situation for there to be replication of a school classroom can be especially true of foreign languages. As a Subject Adviser, I often hear from members who have taken on the role of ‘teacher’ in a group and feel exhausted as a result of having to do all the preparation. I send them documentation to enable them to adopt the u3a principles of shared learning, but a group that takes joint responsibility for activities with all members involved in preparation is likely to make better progress, as well as be more enjoyable.

What topics do you find people get the most out of discussing?

As well as informal conversation at the start and end, it helps to base meetings around a written text that people are going to find engaging. That can be as simple as generating something by using the ‘Languages’ function on the Wikipedia page about your chosen subject. The Ludlow French group usually has a maximum of 10 people taking part, and we have a different host each week who chooses a topic and distributes any documentation in advance.

What can u3a members do if they want do find out more about foreign language groups?

There’s a lot of practical advice about how to run a language group, and members can also contact me for more information via u3a.org.uk/learning/subjects/french

  • You can contact over 70 Subject Advisers via: u3a.org.uk/learning/ subjects. Also visit our Subject Advisers Directory section.

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Subject Advisers Directory

Looking for fresh inspiration for your interest group? Whether you want to share ideas with similar groups or need support to start a new one, find resources and information at u3a.org.uk/learning/subjects.


In our Spring 2024 issue, we mistakenly stated that the Backgammon Subject Adviser, Jules Smith, was a member of Ayr u3a. However, he now belongs to South Molton u3a. Please accept our sincere apologies!

  • Could you be our next Ballroom Dancing Subject Adviser? To find out more, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Hooked on fishing

Comedian and actor Paul Whitehouse shares his lifelong love for angling – and explains why it’s so much more than just a sport.

I wouldn’t say that I turn to fishing when I’m in trouble exactly, or even when I’m especially happy, but rather it has been a constant in my life, always there for me whatever. There have been times when I have been completely obsessed by it, but more often it’s been a refuge for me, a happy place in my mind that I can always access when I need to. I’ve led – and I’m leading – a fast-paced sort of life, and my mind can race away with me to the point where I’m plagued with insomnia. Many is the night I wake up at 3am with my

thoughts cascading all over the place, and I’ll lie there with some tune going round and round in my head. “Stop that, Whitey,” I’ll say, and that’s where this blessed sport called fishing comes in. Perfect casting In my mind I’m up on the River Dee, the river that’s been my hallowed place for quarter of a century. I’ll clear my head of worries, songs and everything else, and I’ll fish that pool down. There I am, physically in my bed but four hundred miles away mentally, executing a single Spey cast with my line pinging out like an arrow, in that comforting salmon fisher’s rhythm: cast and move, cast and move. I never catch anything on these nights – I hardly ever do anyway – but that’s for the best. I wouldn’t want the excitement to disturb the harmony of my vision. It’s a glorious oblivion at odds with reality, where there’s never wind, rain or boiling heat, and I never get snagged or lose a fly. It’s just my perfect session, tucked away in my mind, that I can reach for whenever I’m in need. My head – my health, even – would be in a different place but for my fishing; that’s how central it is to me.

Best introduction

My longest fishing mate and the one to whom I owe it all is my old man. My dad took me on my first fishing trip, and we fished together off and on for the rest of his life. He introduced me to the most glorious way to escape the world and be more part of it, simultaneously. How grateful am I? I can’t begin to thank him enough. We fished for roach on the Lea, chub and dace on the Ouse, and perch and rudd in various lakes in Ireland, but he was most happy on his native streams and rivers in Wales, like the Usk and Wye. Here we caught trout, grayling, chub and dace, though he was more interested in the trout. We fished Lough Conn in Ireland and Loch Awe in Scotland for trout, but we didn’t fish for salmon till later in his life. Our shared love meant that we were together so much more than we would have been otherwise, and that was precious. You can’t put a price on it.

Fishing fundamentals

Three of the principles Paul and his co-writer, fellow fisherman John Bailey, abide by:

1. Look after our fish. We all have to do what we can to look after our fish and our fisheries: they are our everything as anglers and as human beings. Catching a fish should be a big deal for all of us, and we owe it to every one of them to appreciate them and treat them well.

2. Understand your fish. In our fishing universe, we always put the fish first, way ahead of bait, tackle, rigs and all that stuff. Set yourself to understand fish. Watch fish. Think why a fish does what it does. Realise that a fish thinks almost exclusively (we guess!) about survival, food and reproduction. Nothing else comes into their equation, so time is never wasted in getting close to your fish. In fact, it’s the reverse.

3. It’s only a fish! Never begrudge anyone else’s success, because it’s simply not worth it. Learn from their success and take from it what you need to improve your own performance. Never despair. Do the right things and your time will come. Don’t get down in the mouth – it’s only a fish. And always remember what a privilege it is to be alive and somewhere lovely – whoa, there’s a king fisher going past! See what we mean?

  • Extracted from How We Fish: The love, life and joy of the riverbank by Paul Whitehouse and John Bailey (Mudlark, £9.99, paperback). To win one of three copies, go to https://b.link/draw


“The one that got away is always going to be the best-ever catch!”

Gary Wallis is the Fishing group leader at Cranleigh u3a.

“My wife often asks me what I think about when I’m fishing... and I always say, ‘Well, I’m just thinking about the fishing!’ It’s so absorbing – there’s nothing like sitting quietly by the water, listening to the birds or watching a duck try to pinch the bait, while you wait for the float to go under, or the rod tip to go round... “I hadn’t fished since I was a teenager – life got too busy – but I took it up again nine years ago and soon got back into it. After I joined the u3a, I decided to set up a group for fellow anglers. A handful of us go out fishing to one of the local licensed lakes, and it’s a really relaxing, sociable thing to do. We talk about the fishing, of course, but we chat about life in general too. If a fishing novice wants to join for a session, I’m happy to lend them some tackle so they can give it a go without the initial outlay – although I think people who are new to it can quickly get hooked! “Not that it’s always a successful pursuit, of course. My best catch was a 24lb carp, but such triumphs are few and far between. The other morning, I caught a fish on my first cast, but then there wasn’t so much as a nibble for the next two hours – I’d eaten my packed lunch by 9.30...”.

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Good times

Make the most of life – great places to visit, new things to try, what to watch, read and enjoy.

Special places

Come into the garden.

Discover secret spaces, historic masterpieces and horticultural treasures in our pick of wonderful gardens .

Member's story

Sandy Boden, chair of Bromley u3a, recalls her gardening group’s visit to Mona’s Garden in North London. This very special garden belongs to Mona Aboud, who is an inspirational ‘tour de force’. She holds the National Collection of Corokia: these unpretentious evergreen shrubs are from New Zealand, where they’re commonly known as the ‘wire-netting bush’. It was Beth Chatto’s Dry Garden in Essex with its emphasis on Mediterranean plants that first inspired Mona to create this unique space. Then, on a visit to New Zealand, she fell in love with Corokia: on her return, she found a plant specialist in England who had many rare specimens, but was reluctant to part with them – until Mona explained she was aiming for a national collection. That did the trick, and she has truly made good on her promise. The 100m-long garden is ided into sections and includes a plot at the end, which Mona acquired and transformed. It has taken 300 tons of landscaping materials to give the plants the conditions they require. Most of the hard work was done by Mona herself using a wheelbarrow. A meander down the path reveals an abundance of Mediterranean, Australasian and exotic plants, with an emphasis on texture, shape and foliage. Mona’s Garden boasts myriad varieties of Corokia, and has been voted 'Best Back garden' by the London Gardens Society. To ensure her precious collection will be maintained, she has left her entire house and garden to Perennial, a charity that helps people who work in horticulture.

  • monasgarden.co.uk

Gardens of joy

These unique gems are a delight to explore.


Dr Neil’s Garden, Edinburgh This inspirational garden owes its existence to two doctors – the late Andrew and Nancy Neil, who were both passionate gardeners. In 1963, in Duddingston Village, just outside the city, the couple began to work on the steep, rocky land behind 12th-century Duddingston Kirk. By dint of sheer hard work and a constant band of volunteers, some of them patients, they created an oasis of tranquillity, stretching all the way down to Duddingston Loch’s shoreline. A mix of native and exotic trees loom large here. A striking monkey puzzle was gifted as a sapling in 1973; several Sequoia sempervirens have grown from a dormant bud brought back from California; and a white fir from Western North America delights with its rubbery surface. Plantings are mainly traditional, with the occasional surprise like the Cornelian Cherry shrub and the Caucasian Peony. A physic garden was also created in 2012, in memory of both doctors.

  • drneilsgarden.co.uk


Helmsley Walled Garden, Helmsley.

Since the children’s classic The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was published in 1911, everyone’s idea of a secret garden is one behind a door, set in a walled garden. And if ever there was a near-perfect example, then it lies beneath the ruins of Helmsley Castle in the North York Moors National Park. Built in 1759, the paths and central dipping pond are the only original elements of the current 30-year old garden, run as an independent charity. It’s maintained entirely by volunteers, who are guided by trained horticulturalists. Overall, the garden has a relaxed atmosphere, with meadow-like spaces, but there are also formal sections including the Clematis Garden and its own Secret Garden. There is also a Yorkshire Apple Collection, a Salad House and numerous borders. It’s a horticultural gem worth discovering...

  • helmsleywalledgarden.org.uk


Westonbury Mill Water Gardens, Leominster.

This water wonderland was a work-inprogress from 1998 to 2021 for former owner and hydrogeologist Richard Pim. He brought a lifetime’s experience of working with water, engineering skills and a quintessentially British attachment to garden follies to create something truly unique. And while the current owners have their own dreams for the five-acre gardens – a mix of ponds, streams and moisture-loving plantings, set around a brook – they remain essentially what they inherited. Among the attractions is the Cairn Garden, a series of planted small islands separated by a maze of small channels, while the African Summer House, the Wildflower Meadow, the Lily Pond and ‘Monet’ bridge are exactly as you’d imagine. It’s the unique follies that bring the most unexpected elements, including the water-powered Giant Cuckoo Clock, believed to be the only water clock in the world that moves by direct water flow rather than by pendulum - an engineering masterpiece.

  • westonburymillwatergardens.com


Sezincote Gardens, Moreton-in-Marsh.

Sezincote is the story of three brothers – the great-great nephews of the diarist Samuel Pepys. Colonel John co*ckerell returned from India in 1795 planning to build an Indian-inspired home. His death three years later left the task to Charles co*ckerell, who commissioned third brother Samuel, an architect, to design a house with minarets, peaco*cktail windows and a pavilion. It was so admired that, after his visit in 1807, the Prince Regent is believed to have made the Royal Pavilion in Brighton more Indian in ‘flavour’. Fast forward to 1968, when present owners Sir Cyril and Lady Kleinwort, advised by horticulturist Graham Stuart Thomas, began restoring the gardens. Today, visitors can see some of that work including the long canal and Irish yews in the Persian Garden of Paradise. Not least, the curved orangery tearoom illustrates the unique blending of East and West.

  • sezincote.co.uk

Secret gardens…

More magical places

1. The Secret Valley Garden at Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens, Isle of Anglesey, is like a fairy dell with echoes of rushing waterfalls, lush ferns and wild woods. Accessed by worn steps, it’s one of three historic gardens rediscovered there since 1997.

2. Isabella Plantation is a wonderful woodland secret garden in outer London’s Royal Richmond Park, and is prized for its evergreen azaleas, along with rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias. The garden’s 40 acres of lawns, glades, ponds and streams offer the chance for quiet contemplation.

3. After discovering the walled garden on the vast estate of Wallington Hall, Northumberland, it quickly becomes clear how big it is in its own right - a ‘garden within a garden’. From East Wood through Neptune Gate, enjoy The Mary Pool, the lower terrace border and the new Storytelling Garden with giant storytelling chair.

4. Tucked on the edge of Dartmoor National Park, The Garden House is a plant-lover’s paradise. It features over 6,000 plant varieties; a series of themed garden ‘rooms’ linked by winding pathways; a Snowdrop Festival in spring; and ‘New England’ autumnal colours.

  • For more inspirational gardens, go to: ngs.org.uk

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What’s on

Take a quick look at what to watch, visit and listen to now...

Film and TV critic Mark Adams of Chichester u3a recommends the following.

Big screen action

Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum co-star in comedy drama Fly Me to the Moon, which is set against the backdrop of Nasa’s Apollo 11 moon-landing mission. Brought in to fix Nasa’s public image, sparks fly as marketing expert Kelly Jones (Johansson) wreaks havoc on stressed launch director Cole Davis’ (Tatum) already difficult job. When the White House deems the mission much too important to fail, Jones is directed to stage a fake moon landing as back-up. Released on 12 July.


One of the truly great film noirs, Chinatown arrives in a special 4K Ultra HD edition for its 50th birthday. Jack Nicholson stars as private eye Jake Gittes, alongside Faye Dunaway. Also available is a director approved Criterion restoration of Martin Scorsese’s 1980 classic Raging Bull, starring Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta. Not least is the home entertainment release of newly-restored Billy Connolly: Big Banana Feet, a film record of the Scottish comedian’s 1975 tour of Ireland long thought lost – a comedy gem for Connolly fans.


Becoming Karl Lagerfeld.

The life of the fashion designer icon is strikingly unveiled in this six-part series, based on the bestseller Kaiser Karl by Raphaëlle Bacqué. Opening in 1972, when 38-year-old Karl (Daniel Brühl) falls in love with the sultry Jacques de Bascher (Théodore Pellerin), an ambitious and troubling dandy, and subsequently dares to take on his friend and rival Yves Saint Laurent (Arnaud Valois). Set in 1970s Paris, Monaco and Rome, the series follows the blossoming of this complex and iconic personality at the heart of couture. Premieres 7 June, Disney+.


Recently added Tudor murder-mystery series Shardlake is based on the popular novels by CJ Sansom, and features Arthur Hughes as lawyer Matthew Shardlake, who is instructed by Oliver Cromwell (Sean Bean) to investigate the murder of one of his commissioners at a monastery in the remote town of Scarnsea. Out Now On Disney+.

Worth a listen

Turn to BBC Sounds (or Audible) to dip into Jan Etherington’s warm, witty and astute comedy series Conversations from a Long Marriage. It features the delightful duo of Joanna Lumley and Roger Allam as the long-married couple tackling the ups and downs of a relationship after some 40 years of marriage. The pair are blessed with perfect voices for radio, and their chemistry is sublime. In WW2 Pod: We Have Ways of Making You Talk, comedian Al Murray and historian James Holland tackle all things Second World War, packing their podcasts with insight, but also heading off on unusual tangents as they tackle forgotten front lines, cast new villains and make the case for unlikely heroes.

Pure jazz!

Our u3a Subject Adviser for Jazz, Howard Lawes, recommends a few cool jazz festivals to tempt music fans... I’m off to the Swanage Jazz Festival in Dorset in July, which prides itself on a varied programme including both classic and modern jazz (swanagejazzfestival.co.uk). I’m also planning to be at the London Jazz Festival in November, one of the best jazz festivals in the world (efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk). I’ve also been told that Mike Durham’s International Classic Jazz Party is an experience like no other (whitleybayjazzfest.com).

  • For details of jazz events, go to: sandybrownjazz.co

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My Life In Books.

Robert Jackson of Charnwood u3a shares a couple of his recommendations.

Best childhood book:

Easily my boyhood favourite, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame is the enchanting tale of Mole, Ratty, the fierce but loyal Badger and the irrepressible Toad. Written over 100 years ago, the book remains a stand-out story for youngsters with its message that friendship will overcome all obstacles.

Favourite book of all time:

Set largely in New York, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara is the story of Jude and his three close friends from university. It tells of Jude’s life from his childhood as a foundling to his middle years. The book has perfect pace and is written in beautiful prose – a profoundly moving novel.


An Insular Possession by Timothy Mo is a highly intelligent and potent amalgam of history and fiction. Set in and around what would become British Hong Kong, the book explores the involvement of the East India Company in the lucrative opium trade between India and China, culminating in the ‘Opium Wars’. Told from the perspective of two young men of very different backgrounds and character, Mo brings to life, in vivid detail, the conditions and hardships of late 19th-century Asia.

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Poetry competition


We’re delighted to share the three winning poems from our latest poetry competition - and meet the talented members who wrote them.

The u3a poetry competition returned for its fifth year in late 2023, with the theme of ‘What if?’ With more than 400 entries flooding in from across the movement, deciding on the shortlisted poems was not an easy task. After a rigorous judging process, however, we’re delighted to announce our three worthy winners – we hope you’ll enjoy reading their poems, and discovering the inspiration behind each one. We’d like to extend our special thanks to the 21 judges who considered all the entries initially, and to those who judged the shortlisted poems: Chris Winner (former trustee for Wales and previous

chair of the Learning Committee); Gail

Bent of Barnet u3a and Interest Groups

Online literary group leader; and Clayton

Hirst (writer and former journalist).

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By Isobel McGuire, Callander u3a.

What if that January blast

had hurled its fury

before you flew from that safe perch?

Your tiny form could not withstand

its force that felled you to the ground

and left you lifeless.

And now in death,

your fragile body lies still

in feathered beauty;

your crested crown, gold gleaming

proclaims you avian king.

Thoughtful reflection.

Isobel is a keen writer but says she sometimes struggles with writer’s block. The idea for this poem, though, came to her, when she was delivering a newspaper to her neighbour during the Covid-19 pandemic. “A gust of wind had pelted this bird against a gable end and it lay dead,” she recalls. The bird had distinctive markings and Isobel, who has a keen interest in ornithology, consulted a ranger, who identified it as a goldcrest wren. The poem is a poignant reflection of the fragility of life, and the reference to the ‘avian king’ relates to one of Aesop’s fables, where the birds have a competition to see which can fly highest (the goldcrest hid in the wings of an eagle and waited until it tired before soaring to victory). Isobel has been in her local writing group for eight years, and also writes stories from the point of view of lesser-known characters in the Bible.

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By Gerard McCreesh, Knutsford u3a.

What if I did not savour them enough

Those jewelled summer days spent climbing rough

Demanding gritstone outcrops of my youth

Where gravity’s an unrelenting truth

What if I should have spent a bit more time

Remote from city bustle, urban grime

And pushed the boat and forced a little more

From finger jams and hands rubbed almost raw

What if I could have climbed with greater verve

Approached those courage tests with steely nerve

But on one thing I really am quite clear

I never held another sport so dear.

Reaching the heights

Gerard keeps a poetry book in the loo and makes sure he reads a poem every day. His first attempt at writing one was back in 2004, when he put pen to paper for National Poetry Day after suffering from a bout of insomnia, and has written several poems about his love for West Ham United. This poem reflects his lifelong love of climbing, and was inspired by Stanage Edge, which he describes as a “climbers’ paradise in the Peak District. “Sometimes in the sunlight, the rock would start to glisten,” he says. “That’s what gave me the words ‘jewelled summer days’.” He continued climbing until a year ago, and the poem reflects on the satisfaction he got from it, with a touch of wondering if he should have indulged his hobby more. “It becomes less frequent as you grow older,” says Gerard, now 77. His sports of choice today are rather more sedate; he runs a table tennis group for Knutsford u3a and also cycles and plays tennis to stay active.

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By Eve Jackson, Stubbington u3a.








scratched, warped, cracked, finding a pile of 45’s close to collapse.

Perhaps still hangs over a precipice, decades backtrack to sharp-needled

regret: bouffant refusing to set, American tans that snagged, snake-arm,

finger-creep, slobber kissed on back seat of Odeon. Promises and dreams

flip to B-side of evenings: wallflower-waiting as Eddy and Frankie twist

the night away. Best friend in red babydoll dress. Oh perfect!

Sha la la’s and impossible moons fill my head, heart stuck in groove. I lean

against this stack of yesterday’s dreams; elbow the one truth that still pokes out.

What ifs at the bottom of the stack unplayed for years, but still too pre


Records of the past

STACKED is all about reflection, says Eve, looking back wryly on the activities of her youth in Southall, Middlesex. It revolves around a stack of old records that hold memories of ‘yesterday’s dreams’, as well as recalling the frustrations of American stockings that would snag easily. While most of her memories are happy and nostalgic, some are reminders of poor choices, so the records remain unplayed. “There is a bit of regret,” she says. “Some are too painful to go back and explore.” Eve is no stranger to writing. She wrote children’s poems for many years when her own children were young, and three books on making choices for those with learning disabilities, before going back to writing children’s stories. “I won a couple of short-story competitions, and decided I would try poetry,” she says. “I belong to three different groups but I’m still learning.” Music also remains a part of her life today; she’s an active member of the u3a ukulele group.

  • Further shortlisted poems can be read on the u3a website at: u3a.org.uk/learning/poetry-competition

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We love to hear from you, so please email your letters, including your name and u3a, with ‘Mailbox’ in the subject line to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or post to the u3a office.

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A warm welcome

Making big changes later in life can be daunting, but as this member has discovered, the support and friendship of the u3a can make it an exciting and fulfilling time.

I've lived all my life on the south coast of our beautiful country but recently moved to the Midlands, leaving behind a huge group of much-loved friends. Why? Well, both my offspring live here, together with grandchildren. I always intended to join them ‘when I got older’. However, having reached yet another O last year, I suddenly cottoned on that it was maybe time to move so that I might forge a great new life. I had a brilliant send-off at the AGM of my then u3a where I was chair, as well as with my singing group. The very next day, I moved to the Midlands. I had joined my new u3a a couple of months beforehand, and received a lovely welcome by email and letter. Ten days after moving, I went along to their monthly open meeting and again was made welcome. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to join the committee, started a new group (singing for non-singers) and joined a couple of other ones. Within seven months of moving to a completely new part of the country, I have a new tribe in the making! Do I miss my life-long friends? Of course! We had shared history and experiences, tragedies and joys, and those can’t be replaced. But if you are thinking that you ought - or could - move to be nearer to family, u3a is the perfect vehicle to hitch to your star. Don’t put it off until you are any older!

Anne Powell, Warwick District u3a.

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Technical trials

Pauline Kunzmann’s letter about the problem of making doctor’s appointments via the NHS app (Spring 2024) certainly resonated with other members.

It’s not just getting GP appointments that is an issue. Recently, I was told by my surgery I could no longer request regular prescriptions on the phone or by email and needed to use an app to do so instead. I don’t have a smartphone, but my son was able to download the app on to my iPad, and we managed to order the required medication. This week, however, the app would not allow me access to my records despite going through laborious security steps numerous times. Of course I thought it was my fault, and in frustration, phoned the surgery (“You are number 75 in the queue”). When I eventually spoke to the receptionist, she told me airily: “Oh, there are technical issues today – never mind!” I am 87, care for my 92-year-old husband, and simply don’t have the time or energy for all of this. Why wasn’t any consideration given to patients like me when this system was so badly rolled out?

Betty, Devon.

I am very involved with both the u3a and the patients’ group at our medical centre. The patients’ group carries out regular training sessions on IT, showing how to use the various apps such as the NHS app and Patient Access. We also run a helpline to address IT problems that patients may have, and are very involved with the social prescribers and the GPs, who often advise patients to consider joining our local u3a when and where appropriate.

David Gregory, Haddenham u3a.

Surely, GP surgeries that no longer allow patients to make appointments by telephone or in person and insist on these being made via the NHS app instead could be challenged? Patients who are not ‘smartphone savvy’ – and do not particularly wish to be – are more than likely to be older people. I firmly believe that this is indirect discrimination.

Anonymous member, Sussex.

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Bear comfort

When my husband died, and I had to get rid of his clothes, my daughter took two of his favourite shirts, his beloved cardigan, and his raincoat, and had a teddy bear made out of them. He sits in the chair beside me, and I can picture him in those clothes,

so he is always with me.

Elizabeth Green, Witney u3a.

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Making changes

We’ve been thrilled by your response to the new-look magazine – thanks everyone! Here’s just one letter we received.

I read new editor Sharon Parsons’ welcome message in the Spring 2024 edition and it inspired me to use her analogy of moving into a new home as a way of making changes within our Architecture group here in Thornbury. In 2023, I took over as leader of our group which has 136 members. We have a very successful format whereby members give talks but, for some time now, I have wanted to introduce changes whereby more members get involved. We’re going to have a meeting in August when I hope members will embrace the idea of spreading the load among the whole group. I think Sharon’s concept is an excellent way of introducing small changes over time. Thank you for the inspiration. I for one welcome this approach and love the new-look format.

Doug Fowler, Thornbury u3a.

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What did you say?

I think u3a Matters would be the perfect place to collect old sayings we remember. Here’s one from my gran to get you started: “If you see so much as a penny that isn’t yours, you don’t pick it up!” And when I met my first husband as a teenager, my mother said: “Have a chocolate and forget him!” (She was right as we split up seven years later.) I think a lot of u3a readers would probably have similar memories. Or maybe I’m just “as daft as a brush”. I’ll let you decide!

Sue Richardson, Bolton u3a.

Editor’s note: Come on, then – what old sayings do you recollect?

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Keeping a record

A member’s story in the Spring edition about making memories for the future has encouraged several of you to get in touch.

I was very interested in the article by Nick Hoskins. I co-run the Local History group for Arun West u3a and have spent many years collecting the history of the village of Barnham, West Sussex. I felt so strongly that memories should be shared that I gave a talk to my group entitled “The importance of writing it down”. I urged everyone to write on the back of photographs, write about their childhoods, create a timeline, and think about episodes in their life that may be of wider interest. I then shared extracts from my memoir about moving to Crawley (then a brand-new town) in 1955. I sent this to Crawley Museum, and it was also picked up by the West Sussex Records Office, which made it available at Crawley Library. It was well received as there was apparently not much record of the early new town experience. In my view, it is the memories of real people that put their lives at the heart of history.

Sandra Lowton, Arun West u3a.

A few years ago, my daughter, now in her mid-40s, realised she knew very little about my background, and presented me with a gift that would address this issue. This gift was ‘Dear Mum’ – a lovely pre-printed hardback notebook, where each page called for an entry by me of aspects, in chronological order, of my background, upbringing and growing years. The required entries then move on to my early adult life, and my reflections on my daughter’s birth, upbringing and growing years. The idea is that, once I have completed the journal entries, I then gift the book back to her as a personal record of her life and mine. It’s a lovely way of addressing that all-too common cross-generational ignorance not only of family life, but of the society that influenced it. I might mention there is also a ‘Dear Dad’ version (still awaiting any contributions in our household!).

Carol Whitlock, Diss u3a, Norfolk.

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Age concern

When did everyone start to get so sensitive about terms like ‘pensioner’, ‘elderly’ and ‘old’? Was it when the term ‘senior citizen’ came in (rarely used these days, I notice)? Do young people have a problem being called ‘teenager’, ‘adolescent’, ‘juvenile’ or even ‘young’? We are what we are: these are simply adjectives of age classification. I have no problem whatsoever being described as old/elderly/a pensioner/ retired or whatever. They are all true of my age and status in society. They are not derogatory and they in no way restrict me from being who and what I am! I continue to live my life to the full, contributing to my local community as much as I can. I always chuckle inwardly when I hear friends of my age referring to ‘the elderly’ as if they are still youngsters themselves!

Hilary Hicklin, Kennet u3a, Wiltshire.

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Lemon hit!

A big thank you to u3a Matters and Beverley Jarvis for the lemon tart recipe in the Spring Edition, which I made this morning. It’s a refreshing end to a meal, and one for the favourites list. The amount of butter for the biscuit base seemed to be missing so I used 100g, which did the trick. My wife and I had a chuckle about Beverley’s other recipe – the citrus pudding - however, as neither of us could remember anything that special being served in our schools, as she suggests. It was more likely to be apple crumble, apple pie, jam roly-poly or sponge with a layer of jam and coconut – and always served with custard.

Brian Evans, Wyre Forest & District u3a

Editor’s note: We do apologise for the missing butter measurement. It should have been 75g, so Brian was very close! Oh, and the tin size is 21-23cm.

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Keep singing!

Our feature on group singing hit a high note.

I run a sing for fun group here in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, and I’m very proud of our membership of 18 very keen ‘singers’. I’ve put that in quotation marks because not all of them, by their own admission, are singers. But it doesn’t matter! We meet once a month and anyone who joins is made very welcome. We don’t need music because they are all familiar to us: our songs range from Land of Hope and Glory to My Old Man’s a Dustman. We manage to get through about 25 to 30 songs in an hour, then have a natter and a drink with biscuits. We have also sung at a couple of local care homes where the residents are invited to join in. Singing is beneficial in so many ways and I urge anyone who is contemplating joining their local u3a singing group to do so. You won’t regret it. Joan Deller, Chatteris u3a.

I read the story about Janet Stoney and the Wetherby & District Singing for Fun group with great interest, as here in Long Eaton & District U3A we have a group that sounds identical. We also meet twice monthly and sing a wide variety of songs. At times we even like to think that we sound like a real choir! Our Singing for Fun started around 12 years ago when someone knocked on the door of our wonderful leader, Joan, to ask if she might like to take on the job as musical director of a new singing group. Her talented leadership, musical skill, warmth and humour have entertained us, inspired us and above all nurtured our joy of singing and having fun. Sadly, Joan passed away suddenly last November and as yet we have been unable to find anyone to take on a musical leadership role for the group. Joan was a superb pianist and musician and she dedicated many hours to arranging and recording her accompaniments. This has meant that we can continue to meet and enjoy singing together but we do need a new leader to be able to learn new songs and harmonies for the future. We all miss her terribly.

Liz Williamson, Long Eaton & District u3a.

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Watch what you flush

I was interested in the ‘Smart ideas’ item in the Spring issue about doing our bit on Earth Day. I have been a member of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace since the early 1980s. One of my present concerns is the use of single-use items, especially wet wipes, which are then flushed into the sewers because manufacturers label them ‘fine to flush’. They are not. They cause giant fatbergs, which block the sewers and are no doubt involved in human waste getting into our water. There is no need to use such products. The only things that should be put into the toilet pan are pee, poo and paper.

Margaret Forbes, Bearsden & Milngavie u3a.

What about the human touch?

I understand (maybe incorrectly) that artificial intelligence (AI) can quickly sift through 4,000 pages of learned opinion on, say, the likelihood of earth being hit by a massive asteroid in the next 50 years. Such writing will have been carefully assembled, use recognised scientific jargon, and been perused by an expert advisory panel. AI searches for phrases that indicate strong and weak agreement for its summary, but cannot (as an inanimate gadget) appreciate the consequence of an asteroid 30 miles wide hitting our planet, even if the phrase ‘near extinction event’ appears several times. But what about life’s messier (and closer to home) problems? How might AI support children arriving at school unable to brush their teeth? Call centre advisers struggling to absorb the bamboozling features of numerous products and IT procedures? Managers whose departments have not only created an over-ambitious minefield of initiatives but also held meetings which persistently dodge serious discussion about the bad news? Can only concerned hom*o sapiens try to resolve opaque social issues in our polychromatic world?

Neil Richardson, Holme Valley u3a.

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A problem shared

In our Spring issue, Bob wrote to us about the difficulties he and his wife face in getting younger members to take on more of the workload at his u3a. Here’s what some of you had to say.

Winding up groups is not a failure! It’s like pruning a plant to help it flourish. Why not make a short summary of why a group was set up, how it was run, numbers involved, the highlights (and lowlights) and how it was wound up. Add a few photos and store the record digitally. It honours the efforts of those who took part and provides a snapshot of what has been popular, where and when. Best of all, it may one day be a resource for someone considering starting up a new group. Bob and his wife should be proud of all they’ve achieved.

Julia Mountain, Glasgow West End u3a.

I am a groups coordinator for my branch and have over 60 groups to keep an eye on. Groups can have a finite life, often linked to a particular who has a passion for that activity. When they have to give up, it is often a really difficult job to replace them. I am delighted that we started up nine groups last year but we have had to let others fold as no one was prepared to take them over. I see that as the natural order of things and not necessarily something to lament. That doesn’t mean we don’t try to keep groups going but I am not in the business of flogging a dead horse!

Alan Soldat, West Wilts u3a.

Sometimes it is a matter of confidence. If you have done an excellent job, people worry that they will be compared with you. If you think this might be the case, then coach your members in the various skills required until they gain the confidence to offer help. New convenors take note: you need to start this from day one if you are ever to leave. If confidence is not the issue, then stronger measures are required. My advice for Bob would be to make a list of the activities they are involved in, together with finishing dates, putting those activities you care about the least at the top of the list. Send this list out to all members, explaining that you have done all you can, and someone else needs to step forward now. You may not get volunteers immediately but, as the groups close, it will dawn on them that you mean what you say. You will not have to watch many groups fold and they may well open up again, and you can finally enjoy them as a member.

Sally Anne Clark, Kings Hill u3a.

Many groups share this dilemma. It’s so hard getting the balance between handing over the reins and losing control, but sometimes these decisions are forced. At Brent u3a, where I led several groups and was secretary, my husband suddenly fell very ill and my computer collapsed. I was surprised and delighted to see how people stepped in to help, hosting Zoom meetings and leading groups when I was no longer able to. But that’s not ideal and I’ve seen from other groups how the best way is to give a date for stepping back. People can and will help if they’re given the chance and shown the way. After all, the u3a is about empowering and sharing, as well as leading and learning!

Cathy Mercer, Brent u3a.

I have a great deal of sympathy with Bob. I suggest that people within the various interest groups are approached individually, face to face, and asked to help, with the obvious corollary that if no one is prepared to take over, that particular group will close. It may be that people underestimate their own ability to follow such obviously competent predecessors and just need encouragement. It could well be that roles could be shared by two people subiding the necessary tasks. Bob and his wife could offer to mentor their successors until they get the hang of it.

Rosemary Harvey, Cheltenham u3a.

Some letters have been edited.

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Another dilemma

I’ve been a member of my u3a for about five years now, and love the various groups I belong to and the great camaraderie. About a year ago, a woman I once worked with joined and, as I was the only person she knew, I made an effort to include her and make her feel welcome. The problem is that, as time has gone on, it’s become increasingly clear how unpopular she is with everyone else: she is very loud and opinionated, and what’s worse, when she’s putting the world to rights she implies that I agree with everything she says, which is really annoying! I’ve tried to distance myself from her as politely as I can, but now she’s even started calling at my house so that we can arrive at our interest groups together. I’m not very confrontational, and don’t want to be rude – underneath it all, I think she is a good person – but I am finding the situation increasingly difficult, and have even thought about quitting certain groups. What would other members do?

Catherine (Name has been changed.)

  • How would you advise Catherine? Send your thoughts to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject ADVICE: A PROBLEM SHARED. If you have a dilemma you’d like help with, head your email DILEMMA and send this to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. (Alternatively, send a letter to the u3a office.) All letters and answers are anonymous.

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Members pinboard

What have you been up to? Got an event to celebrate, news to share, or something to commemorate in your u3a world? We want to know about it!

Life on the inside

Members of Bushey & District u3a’s What The Papers Say interest group had a fascinating visit to The Clink restaurant, inside Brixton Prison. The restaurant is a charity where the prisoners work in the kitchens and front of house. They are usually just one month or so away from release and are taught skills and qualifications for their future. “We had a nice meal with delicious non-alcoholic co*cktails and plastic cutlery,” says Interest Group leader Denise Rickwood. “Our waiter was courteous, and happy to chat – the one question we we weren’t allowed to ask was why he was in there.”

Quintessential quilts

The Derby u3a Creative Crafts group have been busy making quilts for the charity Project Linus, which gives them to disadvantaged children. “A friend in Chester-le-Street’s u3a donated a large amount of fabric to the group and we had a lot of fun learning the techniques of English paper piecing, appliqué and quilting,” says Sharon Scothern, group leader.

Celebrating a centenary!

One of St Austell u3a’s longest standing members, Joan Mitchell, celebrated her 100th birthday! Here, their secretary presents her with a bouquet and a letter from the King.

Row, row, row your boat...

Torrential rain and squally winds on the River Lune proved no match for the Lancaster & Morecambe Rowing group in April. To commemorate the u3a’s 35th birthday, the team – all of mixed ability - set themselves a rowing relay of 35 miles (quite a hike from their usual weekly distance of 3.5 miles), and were cheered on by wellwishers, before reaching dry land for a well-earned rest with tea and cakes in the John O’Gaunt boat house.

Marking 10 years

Holme Valley u3a celebrated its 10th birthday at the April monthly meeting. Members who attended enjoyed a slice of birthday cake with their tea and coffee. Chairman David Barnett then introduced guest speaker Alison May (pictured here with the u3a trustees) from u3a Membership Services. She talked about how the £4 membership fee is spent on advice and information, insurance and licences, publicity and site-builder websites.

  • Send brief details of your memorable event – and a good clear photograph – to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Mark your email: PINBOARD.

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Brain games


From Cryptic Crackers of Swansea u3a.


1. Sean was mistaken in Abertawe (7)

5. Change tactic, substituting starter,

reveals organic acid (6)

10. Arranged totem for sacred composition (5)

11. Poinsettia family? (9)

12. Queen with red ring disturbed shooter (9)

13. Solution to thirst was found in bottle and rank and file (5)

14. Damsel from Malawi – she sends concealed greetings (6)

15 See Skye with a four-legged friend (7)

18. Mystical like this puzzle? (7)

20. Sounds like you need these work forces on a sailing holiday (6)

22. Many times games of tennis, bottle up (5)

24. Sunsets here are not in England (4,5)

25. Timid as a free tonic could be (3,6)

26. A future event exposes person administering justice (5)

27. A C or D C for E (6)

28. Cancel engagement (3,4)


2. Pond resident is really confused with wit (5,4)

3. In spite of changes, the nightstand won it! (15)

4. Regular servings of tea, (my Earl Grey Set),

appears (7)

6. Awesome universe (1,9,5)

7. Latin shinbone (5)

8. Crazy fireworks! (8)

9. Rum elf? (6)

10. Method of a modern age (4)

16. Stony broke and penniless, so I hear, in strong chemical (9)

17. Cadge rather than earn (8)

19. Faint hearted playwright? (6)

20. Cretins are confused in the tank (7)

21. The definite article is removed from the

passageway in church (4)

23. The church profits from a part in libretti theatre (5)

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Crossword SOLUTION

Across: 1. Swansea. 5. Lactic. 10. Motet. 11. Euphorbia. 12. Derringer. 13. Drank. 14. Wishes. 15. Terrier. 18. Cryptic. 20. Cruise. 22. Often. 24. West Wales. 25. Not fierce. 26. Reeve. 27. Energy. 28. End date.

Down: 2. Waterlily. 3. Notwithstanding. 4. Emerges. 6. A Wonderful World. 7. Tibia. 8. Crackers. 9. Spirit. 10. Mode. 16. Insolvent. 17. Scrounge. 19. Coward. 20. Cistern. 21. Isle. 23. Tithe.

  • To submit a crossword, grids should be no bigger than 15 square. Email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject ‘CROSSWORD SUBMISSION’.

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1. Whistle on water to ship the big brass (4,2,5)

5. Currently it's an optical illusion (7)

8. Build small library in middle of road as an excuse (5)

9. Nick, botching, but not big style (5)

10. Regretting the concealing of the white heron (5)

12. Loaned (without a structure) in days of yore (5)

14. ers who claim to have read it? (7)

15. Set out in nearness to serious quality (11)


1. An ark can bring peace on Shrove Tuesday (7,4)

2. Carpet ripped to shreds by lab. dish (5)

3. Apportion a great deal, it sounds (5)

4. Daphne Lord's attempt hold on to your bike (4,7)

6. Suggest it could be the Cardinal too, say? (5,2)

7. Croon, in fm broadcast just to fit in (7)

11. Allude to preference, with no small change (5)

13. Although badly caned, Morris can lead this (5)

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Pitcherwits SOLUTIONS

Across: 1. Pipe on board. 5. Topical. 8. Alibi. 9. Notch. 10. Egret. 12. Olden. 14. Frogmen. 15. Earnestness.

Down: 1. Pancake race. 2. Petri. 3. Allot. 4. Drop handles. 6. Point to. 7. Conform. 11. Refer. 13. Dance.

  • For more free Professor Rebus puzzles visit pitcherwits.co.uk

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Maths challenge

Question 1

The Fenchurch u3a Art interest group arranged a display of their watercolour and acrylic paintings. Of the thirty members, twenty displayed their work. Six displayed just acrylic paintings while five displayed just watercolour paintings. How many displayed a mixture of both acrylic and watercolour paintings?

Question 2

Bill walks for a mile at a speed of 4 mph, a second mile at 3 mph, and finally, a third mile at 2 mph. What was his average speed?

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Maths challenge solutions


Subtracting from the 20 who displayed, the 6 who displayed just acrylic paintings and the 5 who displayed just watercolour paintings, we are left with the 9 who displayed both acrylic and watercolour paintings.


Total distance travelled = 3 miles. Total time taken = 1/4 + 1/3 + 1/2 = 13 / 12 hours. Therefore, Bill walked at an average speed of 3 / (13 / 12) = 36 / 13 = 2.77 mph (to 2 decimal places).

  • Problems and puzzles are posed weekly online by Rod Marshall, Ian Stewart and u3a Maths & Stats Subject Adviser David Martin, and can be found at u3a.org.uk/learning/learning-activities/maths-challenge

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From Michael Cleaver, of Lancaster & Morecambe u3a

Part-score competitive bidding

Re-open the bidding with a delayed overcall, delayed double or delayed 2NT, if the opposition bid and support a suit to 2-level and then pass. Where the auction has been something like:

West. 2 ♥.

North. Pass.

East. 1 ♥. Pass.

South. Pass. ?


West. 1 ♣. 2 ♥

North. Pass. Pass.

East. 1 ♥. Pass.

South. Pass. ?

It is usually wrong for South to pass the bidding out. The opponents have found a trump fit but have not pushed on to game. They do not have 25-26 points (they would have bid game) and they probably don't have 23-24 points (one of them would have tried for game). The points are roughly equal between both sides, and if they have a trump fit, you may have one also. In that case, do not sell out at the 2-level. This advice does NOT apply to rubber bridge where they may have a part score and undisclosed strength.

The actions available when you have not entered the bidding earlier are:

1. The Delayed Overcall: This promises a five-card or longer suit but the suit quality will be poor as you have not overcalled at the 1-level. In the above auctions South should bid 2♠ with:

♠10,87,6,4,3. ♥8,7,3. ♦A,8. ♣K,7.

or 3♣ with

♠8. ♥J,7,4,2. ♦Q,2. ♣K,Q,9,7,6,5.

Length in their suit means partner will be short

2. The Delayed Double: This shows support or tolerance for the missing suits. South would double 2♥ with:

♠K,8,6,4. ♥7. ♦A,8,5,3. ♣J,9,7,3.

3. The Delayed 2NT: This shows support for both minors, at least 4 cards in each. South would bid 2NT with:

♠6,5. ♥5,3. ♦K,8,7,5,3. ♣A,J,5,4.

A Delayed 2NT will usually not have a 5-5 or 6-5 pattern because of the failure to use an immediate “Unusual 2NT” overcall.

After any of the previous bids, your partner should keep the bidding at the cheapest possible level. Your possible outcomes are:

1. You make your 3-level contract – obviously better than letting them play.

2. You are only 1-off in your 3-level contract. Again better than if they make their contract.

3. They push on to the 3-level and fail. Again you are better off.

4. They push on to the 3-level and make. You are no worse off than if you had passed it out at the 2-level.

5. You fail at the 3-level and it costs you more than their contract was worth. This is feasible but rare. Even when vulnerable, it pays not to sell out at the 2-level.

  • What other puzzles and quizzes would you like to see in u3a Matters? Let us know by emailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Personal ads

contact jenni murphy 020 8466 6139 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Copy to Jenni Murphy
Third Age Trust

The Foundry
156 Blackfriars Road

London, SE1 8EN

Email: advertise@u3a org uk

Deadline for next issue:
26 July 2024

Rate £1.87 a word + VAT @ 20%
Box number charge: £10

A box number is essential for any advertisem*nt seeking contact with others, as we do not publish private postal or email addresses, nor phone numbers, in such advertisem*nts.

Send box number replies to: Jenni Murphy, Third Age Trust, The Foundry, 156 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8EN. Write the Box No above the address on the envelope and remember to enclose your contact details.

As soon as your order is accepted, you will be sent a formal invoice with the details of your order, and you will be asked to pay this before the deadline. Please include a full postal address (not for publication unless requested) with your advertisem*nt and state if you are a member of a u3a and, if so, which one. Remittances should be sent to Jenni Murphy at the national office (address left) and cheques made payable to the Third Age Trust.

Holiday advertisem*nts

Readers should ensure any offer complies with UK and EU regulations governing package holidays etc, if appropriate, before parting with any money. The Third Age Trust cannot be held responsible for this.

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Holidays, Canary Islands

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quiet area close to sea. Karen 07801 472954

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Holidays, Cyprus

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Holidays, Greece

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Holidays Italy

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Holidays, Portugal

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Holidays, Spain

ALTEA, COSTA BLANCA. Modern 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom, heated apartment. Pool, tennis, garden, garage. Shops, restaurants, beach close. Warm winter area. Transfers available. 029 20759314 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Holidays, UK

SOMERSET, MENDIP HILLS. - Occasional B and B - ideal venue and location for walkers/ respite and general 'r & r' www. mendiphousesomerset.co.uk email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

LAKE DISTRICT. Quiet village just minutes from Keswick. Warm welcome assured to our 18th century country house B & B. Large, well furnished rooms, with en-suite bath or shower rooms. Beautiful mountain views. Relax in our peaceful garden. Delicious breakfasts. Dogs welcome. Reductions for u3a members. Tariff, photographs, etc. www.thornthwaite-grange.co.uk. Ph. 017687 78205. Email: enquiries@thornthwaitegrange. co.uk. Read our reviews on Tripadvisor.

POOLE HARBOUR shoreline cottage sleeps 4. Stunning views. Close Poole Quay. www.sandbanksview.co.uk. Simon 07860 866183

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The Lakes and The Dales. wwwtheroostcottage.co.uk. 07927 295262

WEST BAY, DORSET. One bedroom apartment with stunning sea view. newpark@ ntlworld.com

CORNWALL. Just for 2 Comfortable and well equipped. Free Wi-Fi. Village near Truro/ Falmouth. EV charging. No dogs/ smokers. Tel: (01209) 860402 www.cornwallallyear.co.uk

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YORKSHIRE DALES. Quiet relaxing, converted Granary for 2. Wonderful scenery, walking and touring. 01729 830291. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

EAST SUSSEX/KENT COASTAL NEAR RYE. 4-bedroom bungalow, sleeps 8/9. Mobility, family and dog friendly, comfortable and quiet. www.holidayhomerye.co.uk

TOPSHAM DEVON. 2-bedroom cottage overlooking Exe estuary and hills. Local shops, inns, teashops, walks. Coast, moors, Exeter nearby Tel 029 20759314. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

TRUSTHORPE, LINCS. Luxury, peaceful, self-catering seaside bungalow, dog friendly, sleeps 4, 2 bathrooms, Wifi, 500 yds to beach and promenade. SPECIAL Weekly Rental Discount for u3a members. www.sandpipercottage.co.uk Val 07702 384936. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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LIVELY WIDOW of 77 seeks gentleman companion in Kingston/Surrey for outings to theatre, cinema, national trust properties and pub lunches. Reply to Box No 464

LEEDS WELL SPOKEN POLITE solvent & fit gent has a liking for the finer things in life WLTM a lady for outings & perhaps more. Reply to Box No 419

WIDOW 70 YRS YOUNG (Retired NHS) Enjoys walking, travel, arts and good conversation WLTM guy with similar interests. Derby/Notts area. Reply to Box No 477.

LADY 60s WLTM N/S Gent. Interests: Hiking, travel, nature. Derby/Notts area.Reply to Box No 409.

LOVE CHANGES LIVES Experienced professional dating agency - We introduce

attractive, intelligent people for companionship, romance and maybe more. Relaxed, confidential personal interviews in your home. Call Sandra at Affinity, 020 8832 9030. www.affinitylondon.com.

DEVON LADY 71, sociable but unconventional, hate sports and crowds. Love nature, animals, gardening, reading. WLTM kind, humorous gentleman anywhere in UK. Reply to Box No 478.

WIDOW, 73 WLTM decent gentleman who enjoys walking, dining out, cinema, theatre and general socialising in or near to Belfast. Reply to Box No 480.

SUSSEX GENTLEMAN, 70's, slim, active, loves, music, cinema, writing, eating out, talking, WLTM local lady 60's/70's for close friendship. Please include a phone number or postal address. Reply to Box No 481.

GLASGOW LADY, MID 70s. Young at heart with varied interests seeks gentleman for days out companionship etc. Reply to Box No 392.

ACTIVE, ALERT, WITTY, elegant widow, 89 years young. Used to the finer things in life. Music, both classical and modern, rural UK. Springtime, sunshine, travel, theatre, cinema and home life. WLTM an ancient gentleman with similar interests. West Sussex. Reply to Box No 482.

77 YEARS OLD WIDOWER, Christian, retired company secretary of national charity and now a National Trust guide in the Cotswolds, would enjoy meeting an interesting lady. Reply to Box No 483.

FEMALE: WELL EDUCATED, attractive, slim, GSOH: WLTM man for occasional outings and holidays. Interests include, nature, art and music. Trafford/ Cheshire area. Reply to Box No 484.

FINANCIALLY SECURE GUY, 68, looking to meet an interesting woman. I enjoy nice holidays, cinema, theatre and meals out. Central London. Reply to Box No 436.

PERSONABLE PHILOSOPHICAL BLONDISH LADY 70s WLTM engaging interesting man. Share social, cultural, outdoor activities, companionship. Sussex/Surrounding. Reply to Box 273.

TALL SLIM GENUINELY YOUTHFUL attractive widow 71 yrs looking for laughter and warm lasting friendship with similar male. Enjoys history, historical buildings and gardens, good food and conversation and any other experience that comes my way. Tell me about yourself. Cambridgeshire area. Reply to Box No 479.

SHY 78 MAN, GSOH, South Lakeland, WLTM, non-smoking 70s lady for friendship and maybe more. Reply to Box No 486.

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NATIONAL HOUSE SITTING COMPANY looking for applicants to join their team. You must have your own car, be honest, reliable and flexible and have a love of animals. You must be a non-smoker and have a permanent home in the UK. If you would like to apply, please log on to www.housesitters.co.uk and complete the application form.

BALLROOM /LATIN MALE DANCE PARTNER. Lady, 5'3 energetic, cheerful, gold medals. Socials, dance holidays. W/Sussex, Hampshire coast. 07866028663

BOOK COLLECTIONS - best prices paid. Martin Johnson 01253 850075

MINDERS KEEPERS, long established, highly respected Home and Pet sitting company is looking to recruit mature, responsible house-sitters for paid sits. Please call 01763 262102 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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This intergenerational study has been so rewarding

Jenny Wilson, chair of Croydon u3a & VC(S) London Region u3a,

shares the outcome of a far-reaching research initiative.

Imagine you’re a young student who, having chosen to undertake a study for your thesis, is transported from Utrecht University in the Netherlands to Croydon u3a in Surrey for a stay of 10 weeks! Two cultural anthropology students – Tess Tolsma and Sherida ten Lande - chose to research how the u3a movement offers ‘support to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, and how these activities improve social connections among u3a members’. The strategy was to listen to people’s stories rather than simply read about the lives of older people, written by third parties. Preparation had involved research on ageing but not with aged people, so the study focused on participant observation to gain a greater understanding of loneliness and its effect on health, and show how u3a membership and involvement might mitigate against those. Fortunately, the students’ English was perfect, and conversations flowed. The girls participated in a great many of our Interest Groups, including yoga, table tennis and various dance classes, along with wine admiration, art appreciation, painting and drawing, and writing groups. We also included small focus groups and individual meetings to allow indepth conversations, while joining some Interest Group Online sessions clearly demonstrated the different connections members make virtually, compared with face-to-face meetings. The students’ attendance at the London Regional Chairs’ Networking Day, visiting the national office, and speaking with chair Liz Thackray and CEO Sam Mauger also gave a wider understanding of the movement. From our point of view, the benefits have been huge. The members’ feedback, personal stories, experiences and opinions were shared and noted, and they spoke openly about the advantages of membership with a collective voice: articulating their u3a experiences gave gravitas to such contributions. I believe this will help when spreading the word with prospective members. Members said how much of a pleasure and a privilege it had been to spend such valuable time in the company of our young friends: “It was wonderful to have such in-depth interest in us ‘oldies’,” said one. Not least, both Tess and Sherida were delighted with their experience. “We are so grateful to have met such wonderful friendly people at Croydon u3a,” they said. “The members’ energy, positive mindset and warmth towards us has been inspirational.” Needless to say, we wish them well and look forward to reading the finished work.

A valuable study.

Here are just a few key benefits of this far-reaching research:

1. The opportunity for some solid inter-generational conversations.

2. Members’ opinions and life experiences are valued.

3. It shines a light on understanding what life is like for those who no longer work.

4. Members can actively help young people, and vice versa.

5. It raises some important questions, such as the gender imbalance.

6. It raises the profile of the u3a.

  • The Trust is often invited to collaborate on various research and shared learning projects. If you or your u3a are interested in taking part, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
u3a - u3a matters Summer 2024 (2024)
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