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  • Writer's pictureSue Hooper-Lawrie

UPDATE June/July 2023

Our speaker on Thursday 6th July is from Guide Dogs

We're lucky that amongst our members are Pauline and Brian Clayton, who have been with us since our early days in 2019. Pauline and Brian have been puppy walkers (now referred to as Puppy Raisers) for Guide Dogs for many years. They will be joined by David Botsford and as volunteers for the Association they are highly knowledgeable about all aspects of the organisation.

David will tell us what the Charity is about after which Brian and Pauline will talk about other aspects of Guide Dogs and introduce us to the world of Puppy Raising and what it involves. They will be bringing Frank along with them. Woof woof!

For our Monthly Meeting on 3 August our own Gill Sole will talk a bout the trip she and her sister made to India.

Two Sisters in India

Gill and her sister Anne eventually made their pandemic-delayed trip to Delhi, Rajasthan and Shimla in the Himalayan foothills and had a whale of a time. Flushed with the apparent enthusiasm for her talk on their North Downs Way Walk, she has decided to share some highlights with us.

From the Committee

June is bursting out all over!

Just a little nod to the Musical Carousel by Rogers and Hammerstein which seems to sum up the explosion of colour we are seeing in the hedgerows and gardens in our fair county. I can confirm that i t is equally lovely in other parts of the UK too having just returned from Hampshire in our MG BGT.

The Committee continues to keep up with The Third Age (our governing body) and also our local Devon Link Network and by the time this arrives in your INBOX Alison, your cvu3a Treasurer, will have attended the latest one via ZOOM. These are useful insights into what other u3a’s are doing and how they engage with their members.

Once again just a gentle nudge to publicise that Sue Greenhough (Membership Secretary) and I (Business Secretary) will have served 3 years on the Committee come our AGM in September and so we are due to step down. We have had some interest in our roles from members but if you think you can use your expertise for either position look out for us at a monthly meeting and talk to us or go to the Culm Valley u3a website, click on ‘About’ then ‘Documents’, open the document, ‘Governance Information’ under ‘Governance and Trustees’. This will give you an insight into the roles of each of the Executive Committee Trustees. There are just 4 Committee meetings each year, held currently at the Halfway House Willand, and CVu3a members are welcome to attend, letting a Committee Member know in advance. The last 2 of the year are on 28 September and 13 December 2023.

Enjoy all your activities over the coming month and we hope to see you all at the monthly meetings too.

Lorna Knowles, Business Secretary

News from the Interest Groups

Check out the individual Interest Group pages for photographs and upcoming events/meetings

Creative Writing

This month we looked at writing in the third person. It presented some challenges with regard to dialogue but notwithstanding that we all produced very different pieces. Some personal, some historical but all presented challenges in terms of being the observer. We hope you enjoy Hazel’s poem about holidays, we did!


Our challenge for the month was 'The Essence of the Season'. There were so many different views from frothy blossom, swathes of bluebells, hedgerow flowers and birds. Then my offering of rain - I was remembering so many wet springs. Our winner for the month was Trisha Luxton who managed to capture a perfect spring day in Northumberland. The instant challenge we were working on from the previous month was Egg/Eggs. It is amazing how you can feature a simple food item in so many ways. One tip if you want to try this yourself is to hard boil your eggs before posing them.

During this months meeting our instant challenge was Mirrors and Reflections. Using mirror tiles we tried to use them in as may creative ways as possible. Some members preferred to look for reflections to capture. It was, as usual a lively meeting where we exchanged ideas and knowledge.

We are going to be changing venues each month as the group has outgrown my cottage.


Eight of us went to the Theatre Royal to see the musical Buddy. What a fabulous show. The first half was about his life and the second was like attending a rock concert in the fifties, so much talent, fun and great songs a few of us remembered from our teens. We all enjoyed a perfect day out.


For our May meeting we invited Stephen Dyer, u3a Genealogy Subject Expert to talk to the group about the 1921 census. Why is the 1921 census so important for those tracing their family history? Well this is the last census which will be published on-line for England and Wales until 2052 as the 1931 census records were destroyed by fire, (although survived in Scotland), and the 1941 census was not collected due to WWII.

Stephen provided an insight and history of how the census information was collected pre and post 1911, together with many excellent tips on how to get the best out of your on-line searches.

Jazz Appreciation

Our various members have been making good use of the lighter evenings and warmer, dry weather, to venture forth and experience their favourite type of music during May / June, including a visit to the BD Jazz club at Cossington, near Bridgewater, where the Pete Allen band were in great form; also an evening with the Exeter Jazz Orchestra at the Tiverton Golf club, where 18 (mainly young) excellent instrumentalists gave good value for money.

Other venues visited included the RBL hall, West Hill, the Jubilee Hall, Langford Budville, and of course, our Culm Valley venue at the Magelake Pavilion, in Uffculme.


Last month we had fun playing! We had two sessions trying out various forms of printing, potato printing, Lino printing and learning how to make our own stamps. All the forms could be used on paper or fabric.


Viv writes "on May 9th eleven members visited Hestercombe Gardens. We didn't quite make the 50 acres but ... We started with the Georgian landscape garden to see the bluebells then to higher woods passing ponds, temples and a waterfall. The Bluebells were a beautiful sea of blue amongst the trees and foliage then past the "witches hut". After lunch we admired the vibrant colours of the formal Edwardian garden on the Victorian Terrace and clever planting in the Great Plat. An extremely enjoyable day with lovely people. NB This Review is very biased as I organised the visit."

Mo writes " We had a great time at Chevithorne Barton today. It was the best garden that I have visited. Mown paths through acres and acres of beautiful grounds with lovely surprises around every corner. Vast collection of oak trees and many rhododendrons, handkerchief tree etc. Cream tea to finish! Chevithorne Barton was a last minute suggestion from Mo and Jackie as was Walter's suggestion of Holcombe Court. Both visits were enjoyed by other members of the group who decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and join them.

Gwen writes "Nine members of the Gardening Group visited Marwood Hill Gardens in North Devon. Purchased in 1949 by the late Sir Jimmy Smart MBE, RHS VMH in Horticulture, local GP, Anesthetist and WW2 RN veteran, this small valley with its stream running through has been extended and transformed into a magnificent 20 acre garden showcasing four National Plant Heritage Collections , including Camellias and Astilbes. With many other rare trees and shrubs set around three lakes it is a tranquil spiritual oasis; a haven for a variety of birds, fish and other wildlife.

Following an informative introductory talk by Malcolm Pharoah, emeritus gardener who trained at RHS Wisley, members were able to make their own way along the myriad of pathways and bridges to take in the sights. Favourite among them was the Handkerchief Tree with its beautiful white leaves.

After an overcast start the clouds cleared and the sun allowed us to see the lakes and plants in their glory, feed the fish and enjoy an alfresco lunch before purchasing some plants.

A pleasurable day out and well worth a return visit."


Another well attended quiz on the 19th May when the topics included, Where in Europe? In this session quizzers were given the name of an event, landmark etc. and asked to put a dot on a blank map where they thought the place was located. Some very good scores from all of the teams on this round, the scores for the round on Sport related questions were however lower in comparison, but who knew what the initials are on the stones which marks the start and finish line of the Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race? well they are UBR (seems obvious now we know!) These are just a couple of examples of the type of questions that help keep the grey cells working. Thank you to Paula for setting these and the other equally interesting questions.

A big thank you also goes to Hazel for making the 'winning' cups to be presented to the team with the highest score at the end of the six rounds. Hazel was a member of this month’s winning team and it was lovely to present one of the cups back to her at the end of the morning. Congratulations to 'Purple Orchids' a team of three who were the top scores for the May quiz. Our next quiz is on the 19 June, please feel free to come along and join us.

Jane Austen Short Course

The group started on 6th June. 7 eager members were welcomed by Pauline into her home to enjoy 2 hours of learning about the background world history taking place, during her lifetime, together with a discussion and session planning for future meetings. We were also treated to lovely refreshments not to mention a comfy seat to watch an informative video.

For example - Did you know that Jane had no separate study to retire to, to write, in her home in Chawton? So, most of her work was probably done in the general sitting-room, subject to all kinds of casual interruptions.

Jane was careful that her occupation should not be suspected by servants, or visitors, or anyone beyond her own family.

Jane wrote on small sheets of paper which could easily be put away or covered with a piece of blotting paper. In the house, between the front door and the offices, was a swing door which creaked when it was opened; but she objected to having this little inconvenience remedied, because it gave her notice when anyone was coming!

One or two members of the group will read one of Austen’s 6 novels, monthly, then report back to the group with a review to include a summary, the prose, characters, plot, humour, witty remarks, and observations, etc. After refreshments, a video of the month’s chosen novel, will be shown.

This new course sums up everything that our u3a does so well…

learning together, sharing, brain food, socialising, and having fun all in one! Thank you to Pauline and all the group members for making this new group so enjoyable.

Learn to Draw Short Course

Art is so fascinating as it crosses over into just about every subject whether History, Geography, Biology, Languages, Literature, all Crafts and so much more. Maths was the order of the day as we tackled proportions and one & two point perspective and at our most recent session. Two learning points, firstly the first shape you put down on your paper becomes the unit everything else you draw is measured against, so you need to think about the size of paper you are using and where you are placing lines and shapes on it. Secondly we focused on how to realistically reduce the size of what you see in a landscape, cityscape or seascape, as what you see heads towards the vanishing point on the seen (or unseen) horizon. How we see, plan, measure and draw ever diminishing content in our eyeline to help create a realistic artwork.


Last month's walk in glorious sunshine, from Broadclyst village around the wider Killerton Estate, demonstrated just how lucky we are to live in such a glorious part of rural mid Devon. Fields of red clover, woods still full of bluebells and a farmyard with cute spotted piglets enriched this beautiful walk whilst a coffee at Killerton, half way round, provided an enjoyable pit stop. We clocked up a good six miles and were too late for our pub lunch but it was certainly worth it.


Taking full advantage of the fine, dry, warm weather over the past several weeks, the Culm Valley u3a “Boulisters” have been turning out every Friday, for the morning and afternoon gatherings, enjoying the fun and fellowship that comes with playing our favourite sport! Long may this

continue. We continues to grow in membership, and now count 28 recipients of our weekly “calling” notices! The enthusiasm amongst our players is encouraging and we keep an open invitation to other CVu3a members to come along for a “taster” game for which we are very happy to provide spare boules for beginners!

Of particular note this month was the illuminating experience of being visited by Michael Wragg’s friend, “Richard” who represented England as a member of the 2022 Petanque England international team! Members who played on Friday 9th June at our Cullompton venue, were able to learn some most useful tips on ways of improving their boules lobbing skills, with our helpful visiting specialist providing one-to-one coaching and guidance. (See attached pics!) We are grateful to Mike and Sue, for hosting “Richard” and his partner “Terrie”, thus making this unique “Learning Experience“ possible. Many of us are determined to build our Petanque skills further, in light of last Friday’s enlightening experience! Learn, Laugh, Live, indeed!

Draw It!

So far we have covered water drops and dribbles, cat and dog eyes and small creatures i.e. bumblebee and field mouse, with varying degrees of success, but 110% enthusiasm and commitment. Drawing always looks a lot easier than in fact it is, but regular practice has already shown improvements. Next we will be tackling birds followed by rivers and waterfalls. With drawing there is always something you can be drawing, so never get bored!

Some of our members are involved in this event and would love to see you there.

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