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  • Writer's pictureSue Hooper-Lawrie

UPDATE August/September 2023

Thursday 7 September 2023 is going to be a busy meeting!

As you arrive you will be greeted by an exhibition of work created by Art in Action, Craft, Photography, Learn to Draw and Draw It! groups. Please take time to have a look at the wonderful and talented creations that will be on display.

Our meeting commences with the Culm Valley u3a Annual General Meeting, which promises, as always, to be short and business like!

Following a cup of something refreshing, we will then be treated to a presentation and talk by Dr Todd Gray MBE on 'The Cathedral Yard Fire of 2016 and Exeter's Ancient Buildings'

Dr Gray will be examining the destruction of the Royal Clarence Hotel, which also destroyed several other buildings and damaged many more in Exeter’s Cathedral Close. Dr Gray outlines the subsequent research undertaken for English Heritage into the surprising history of the 41 buildings which make up St Martin’s Island.

Dr Todd Gray is Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Exeter and has devoted his working career to the study of Devon’s history. His passion for his adopted county is self-evident through his publications and in his lectures. He has written more widely on Devon than any other Devon historian and is at the heart of its historical community. From the Committee …

Culm Valley u3a Forth Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Election of Officers

The AGM and Election of Officers will take place on Thursday 7 September 2023 at 2 pm at Willand Village Hall. Please go to the Home page to access the link to the Notice of Annual General Meeting and Election of Officers and the Nomination for Election to the Executive Committee Form.

All but one of the Executive Committee Members will stay in place for the coming year with Sue Greenough retiring having completed the maximum of 3 years in her role as Membership Secretary. We thank Sue for her dedicated work over the years, keeping all our information safe and records up to date. She certainly deserves a rest.

The current Executive Committee hope that as many members as possible will attend the AGM as not only is it part of the CVu3a Constitution that an AGM is held each year, but also this year we are having our very own Art Exhibition with exhibits from CVu3a interest groups including Art in Action, Learn to Draw, Draw It, Craft and Photography. It should be a brilliant showcase of the creativity of our members and the great volunteers who are the Group Contacts.

Not only that, but following the business part of the meeting there will be teas and biscuits organised by our lovely Tea Team and a talk given by the very knowledgeable Dr Todd Gray on the Great Fire of 2016 in Exeter. You may initially think that the Royal Clarence was the only building to be affected but behind that prominent building was a warren of others. This will be of great interest to us all.

Further information regarding the voting process will be given at a later date should this be required. If you know anyone, including yourself, that would like to be Nominated for the role than please fill in the Nomination Form as required.

Thank you and see you all on 7 September 2023.

Lorna Knowles

Business Secretary

News from the Interest Groups


Our July meeting was held at Gretas house. This lovely lady allowed us to use her home despite the fact that due to a bad fall she looked like she had had an argument with a bus and come off second best! What a trooper she is. Greta a rural garden where the birds flock to her feeding stations. We all had our cameras ready and were very excited when a woodpecker came to feed.

This month our themes for photography were Insects and Photos Through a Frame. This group has very vivid imaginations and the Photos Through a Frame were very diverse and all made you stop and take a second look. We had all experienced the problem of focusing beyond the frame, but the effort was worth the end results. Linda Probert received the most votes for her retro photo of a 40's girl exercising

You would think insects would be an easy topic - when you don't want them we seem to be surrounded by insects. However, the moment you want to photograph them every ant, beetle and creepy crawly disappears. We had beautiful images of bees and butterflies, but the winning photo was Linda Proberts with her remarkable picture of a dragonfly.

Art in Action

This month our group attended an oil painting demonstration by local Landscape artist, Belinda Reynell. It was fascinating to see her technique and the result was a superb Treescape. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the session, it has given us inspiration.

There will be an art exhibition of interest in Tiverton. The Tiverton Art Society members are exhibiting their paintings at Castle Primary School, Tiverton from 12th to the 19th August, excluding Sunday, see.

We will continue to paint together at our twice monthly meetings and look forward to welcoming new members.


Visit to Hangeridge Farmhouse. Seven brave souls ignored the weather forecast and visited this NGS garden on Sunday 16th July. Our thanks to Viv for organising it. We were greeted with an array of hydrangeas in pink, blue and white and a glorious assortment of shrubs and trees. One of us even found a Turkish sage plant. Our plan was that when the rain came we would head to the tea room - which is exactly what we did. Mrs Chave gave us a history of her parents' involvement with the scheme which started over 30 years ago, for which they were given an engraved sun dial in recognition of their work by the NGS.

We didn't allow the changeable weather to stop us admiring the plants and design of the garden and thoroughly enjoyed the friendliness of Mrs Chave and her family.

Write up by Pat one of the "seven brave souls" who visited Hangeridge.

Creative Writing

In July we wrote about Children and this month we wrote about Family. Both very wide subjects which resulted in some funny and some touching writing. Paula has offered her piece about her grandson and the moon. We covered imaginary spats between mother and daughter (probably more realistic for some), and a lovely poem about the gifts of each member of a family.

We loved Paula’s contribution and we are sure you will too.

Is There a Man on The Moon, Nana?

My name is Oliver, I am 7 years old. One night when my parents went out, Nana was babysitting us, by us I mean of course me, my brother Lewis who is 5, and sister Esme who is just 3. When Nana had finished reading our bedtime stories, whilst she was tucking me into bed, I asked her what I thought was a quick question, ‘Is there a man on the moon?’

Nana told me that in 1969 a man from earth had walked on the moon. I was amazed to hear this, but it was getting late, so Nana said it would be a good idea to go to sleep, we could talk about the moon tomorrow, she would answer all my questions then.

When Nana had left the room, my head sank further into the pillow as I began to think of all the questions I had to ask her about the moon. Why did a man go to the moon? How did he get there? What did he do there? Who sent him? Did he still live there? Or perhaps he found an alien? It would be good if he had found an alien living on the moon!

I really liked the idea of an alien living there or maybe there was more than just one! What did the alien do when the man arrived, was he scared? My head was in a whirl with so many thoughts dashing thorough my mind.

Before I knew it, I was fast asleep. Suddenly I felt the bed start to shake, I held on tight in amazement as it flew out of the window, it seemed to be heading towards the moon, with me clinging on excitedly. Could this really be happening to me?

The moon looked big and was shining brightly tonight, it seemed to be pulling me towards it, that must be something to do with gravity, I thought excitedly, I had learnt about gravity at school.

It was dark in space, as I looked down at the earth it appeared to be lit up but was getting further and further away. The bed and I were hurtling towards the moon very quickly, suddenly the bed landed with a jerk, was I on the moon I wondered?

It was a great relief to me to discover that my bed had landed safely. I looked around to find nothing but rocks and craters. I felt brave enough to get out of bed, I stood on the surface of the moon in my bear feet, as I took a few steps, the sandy and dusty surface mingled with my toes. I remembered that my slippers were always at the bottom of my bed, so I quickly returned to the bed to check. Surprisingly, they were still there, they had not been lost on the journey.

I quickly put them on and began to walk on the surface of the moon. There was nothing to do, it seemed a very boring place and I was disappointed. There wasn’t even an activity area like we have at school, so just to keep me entertained I picked up a stone and threw it in a moon crater. I didn’t think I could be doing anything wrong, but I was shocked to hear a loud yell coming from deep within the crater I had just thrown my stone into.

The still, quiet atmosphere of the moon was interrupted by a furious alien who jumped out of the crater abruptly, pointing at me with a protruding wire arm. I apologized to him, but he was so taken aback to see me, he wasn’t sure if I was deliberately trying to hurt him. I explained that I hadn’t meant to hurt him, I hadn’t known he was there!

To my surprise the alien could understand me and could speak my language. He looked relieved and seemed happy I was there. He came over to shake my hand with his curly wire one. In a strange voice, he eagerly began to ask me many questions, who I was, where I was from and how had I got to the moon?

I answered his questions and asked him the same ones. He told me his name was Zing, he explained that he didn’t get many visitors, he had been stranded on the moon for a long time. The only visitor he had seen was a man from earth in 1969 called Neil Armstrong. I told Zing that I knew about him, he must be the man Nana had mentioned to me!

Neil had taught him how to talk in human language, the same one as I spoke, it was a very quick lesson, but Zing was highly intelligent and had soon picked it up! He then explained what he was doing on the moon all by himself. He had lived on a star in another galaxy, he was an explorer, who had travelled to our solar system in a spacecraft, he had looked at all the planets but stopped to explore Saturn, which he said was an interesting planet and had set off from there to land on the moon. When Zing had collected some rocks from the Moon’s surface, he was returning to his spacecraft ready to go home, when he noticed a puddle on the ground under his fuel tank, all the fuel was gone, he was stranded on the moon, with no hope of any other Alien finding him any time soon.

He was very sad as he had left his family behind, they lived on a star, flung far beyond the Milky Way. They would be wondering what had happened to him and he missed them, he was lonely by himself, he told me the moon was a very boring place to be. I couldn’t help but agree with him about that!

I asked Zing why Neil Armstrong had not been able to help him. Zing was sad about that but understood that Neil didn’t have the right type of fuel for his spacecraft.

I had a sudden idea, I asked Zing if he would like a lift on my bed to his home beyond the Milky Way. Zing was delighted but asked how it could be done, as there was no fuel on the moon to power any spacecraft to travel so far away. I explained that my bed didn’t need fuel, all I had done was to fall asleep and dream of where I wanted to go. So, Zing jumped into bed with, with his long thin legs hanging out of my bed, he told me all about his life on the star far, far away.

Eventually we both fell asleep dreaming about life on Zing’s star. Suddenly the bed started to shake, it woke us both up, our journey to another galaxy had begun!

We were traveling at the speed of light, so it wasn’t long before we arrived on the far away Star that was Zing’s home. We were greeted by lots of similar aliens to Zing, who I could tell were very pleased to see their long lost relative, they bleeped excitedly in Alien language. Zing explained to them what had happened to him and that I had rescued him and brought him home.

After all this excitement, I was getting hungry, the Aliens didn’t seem to have any granola, so I realised it was time to go home. I was also beginning to miss my family too and needed to be back home before anyone had realised, I had gone. I said goodbye to Zing and his family, Zing thanked me and told me he was sorry to see me go. I climbed into bed, closed my eyes, and fell asleep dreaming about home. The bed began to shake and before I knew it, I was on my way back to earth.

When I woke up in my room, my brother Lewis was just stirring, when he noticed I was awake, he said sleepy ‘I’m hungry, Oliver lets go for breakfast!’

The End


Would you have correctly guessed the correct version of the brand names shown in the

picture? products we see on a fairly regularly basis, but certainly not as easy as it looks

when trying to choose. This was one of the rounds of brilliant questions set by our Quiz setters for June, Liz and Gail.

To ensure everyone has the chance to get to know each other we encourage participants to sit with different people each month, as a

result it is necessary for each team to choose a name each month, a theme is chosen and each team decide amongst themselves a name relevant to the topic, for me this adds to the overall enjoyment of our monthly meetings as the names are often funny, regularly sees the clever use of puns and can generally raise a cheer or groan around the room when they are called out..

Theatre, Cinema and Music

Four of us had a fabulous evening listening to Rick Astley. We were enthralled by him and u3a Culm Valley members saw his show before he went on to wow his loyal followers at Glastonbury. He has a clear voice, so every word can be heard. He played the guitar and drums as well as sang his heart out. His band has a brilliant relationship with him and Rick built a report with the audience from the first few minutes. We danced, we sang and we clapped. A great evening, it was easy to get to Sandy Park and parking was organised, then a double decker bus into the stadium. We had excellent seats and we all had a fun evening. Let’s hope he comes back again next year to Exeter.


For July's walk on Dartmoor we were lucky that the atrocious wind and rain gave up for a day and we scaled Yes Tor and nearby High Willhayes with alacrity. A small group of 8 walkers plus Rusty the dog set off near Okehampton Camp and were rewarded with a glorious (and not difficult) walk and a complete absence of bog! Thanks to Trudy and Ged's familiarity with the terrain we avoided a somewhat more challenging approach to Yes Tor across a rocky outcrop, which surely would have risked twisted ankles. Instead we walked easily up to the top where we picnicked and admired the views of Hanging Stone Hill, Steeperton Tor and Great Links identified for us by Trudy and Ged, for whom this lovely walk is a regular favourite.


Our various members have continued to get around the area, making good use of the prolonged summertime daylight hours and enjoying evening jazz gigs at several popular venues within easy car ride distances during June, July and now into August. The most popular venues (also frequented by members of other local u3as) are the Magelake Pavilion, Uffculme; the Jubilee Hall, over the county line at Langford Budville, and the Royal British Legion club at West Hill, Ottery-St-Mary.

Boules/ Pétanque We have managed to survive the very varied English summer weather and most Fridays have seen some interesting, highly enjoyable, and oft exciting games played on the sandy terrain in the Walronds gardens. We have achieved as many as twelve players in one session, with members usually gathering at 11.00a.m. or at 2.00pm.

Without attempting to claim any credit for assisting one of our members to raise the standard of his playing ability over a short period since taking up our favourite sporting pastime, we are delighted to learn that a CVu3a player was recently awarded the coveted “Green Shirt” as a member of the Devon Petanque team that successfully competed in a 2023 inter-counties event! We won’t embarrass him by announcing his identity, other than to report that “Andy” will be signing autographed boules next Friday!

Advancing years is no bar to joining in. We have at leastone member who is now into their 10th decade, with a number of younger members representing their 9th decade, fully supporting the belief that keeping active is a key to continued good health! Genealogy

Researching and creating a family tree requires an investment of one's time and commitment over many weeks, months, and years in some cases. Perhaps it's a journey that never reaches an end.

The genealogy group discussed ways to preserve this information for future generations, by using something called a 'GEDFILE'. This is a piece of computer software which is relatively straightforward to use and allows a user to download their 'Family Tree' from commercial subscription websites e.g., Ancestry, Findmypast etc. and to save the data into a personal computer file.

The group also discussed the use of professional genealogists and how to access further expert genealogy advice from the u3a subject advisor Stephen Dyer. We will also be adding several reference guides to the Culm Valley u3a Website over the next few weeks to help members who are researching their Family Tree.


The History Group outing in July was a Redcoat tour of Exeter entitled "Exeter Old and New". Our guide, Jenny, was very knowledgeable and interesting. The tour started at the Cathedral, took us through Princesshay Shopping Centre and into Northernhay Gardens, with Jenny describing what the areas were like through the ages; covering from pre Roman times up to the modern day.

Our August meeting was a walk round Clayhidon with David Pugsley tracing the murder in 1853. We were fortunate to have a beautiful day and David developed the story with fascinating details as we strolled in beautiful countryside, between the significant landmarks. We finished in The Half Moon Inn for lunch and the completion of the story with the coroner's inquest and trial.

Monthly Meetings:

Monthly Meetings are held on the FIRST THURSDAY of each month, except January. The meeting starts at 2pm, with members arriving anytime after 1.15pm. We hold our meetings at Willand Village Hall, Gables Road, Willand, EX15 2PL.

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