Newsletter 2022 July

For a PDF version (so you can print it!), please click here. All hyperlinks (in blue) are active and safe; for instance, each group news entry banner in blue is a hyperlink to the group’s webpage, which will of course contain much more information! 

** Please note there will be no Newsletter in August.  Deadline for contributions to the next (September) edition of the Newsletter:  Friday 26th August 2022.

     Please send your photos and news to as soon as possible before this date.

** Did you attend the Coffee Morning and enjoy the talk?  If so, would you be happy to contribute an account for the next Newsletter for those who missed it?


Issue No 237
Registered Charity 1088437


Coffee Morning: Thursday 21st July 2022

Coffee served 10.15-10.45 – Talk starts 11.00

Baptist Church, Parks Lane, Minehead, TA24 8BS

‘At Close Quarters’

RNLI Minehead’s Community Presenter, Christine White, will be giving us an insight into how the RNLI saves lives. The presentation will include a little bit of history, the people that make the RNLI what it is today, and the innovation and capability that keeps the RNLI at the forefront of sea rescue and coastal safety.

DATE for your DIARY

Thursday 15th September 2022

Coffee Morning – Baptist Church, Parks Lane, Minehead, TA24 8BS
Coffee served 10.15-10.45 – Talk starts 11.00

‘Beryl Cook’

Marilyn Bishop will talk about the much-loved British artist Beryl Cook.  Beryl was known for her comical depictions of larger-than-life characters just having fun.

Notes from the Chair

Well, it’s been a busy month for the new committee as we all continue to settle into our new roles and look at the future of our u3a. We had to look at one area in particular – the newsletter. As you know the long-time editor Margaret Shaw left the committee in May and we introduced two new newsletter editors, Gillian Lusk and Pam Bartlett. Unfortunately, Gill has had to resign from the committee and her editor role, as her commitment to her work on Sudan is her priority. Pam Bartlett will continue as editor, but she is not part of the committee and gives her time voluntarily. We’ve also had to look at the costs of the newsletter. Most of you view it on the website, but some members receive the newsletter as a print version. Currently those members pay £8 extra per year for this and it covers 10 newsletters so they pay 80p per edition. Unfortunately, the costs of printing, and in some cases posting, the newsletter has always been subsidised, but this cost is rising. We have looked at the costs and the average printing cost per edition is £1.39 and where we post it, it adds £1. So each printed newsletter potentially costs £2.39 which is almost three times the 80p paid by these members. It’s why the newsletter last month was not printed professionally. We do not feel we can ask those receiving it to pay the full cost of the printed newsletter nor can we continue to subsidise it, so we have taken the decision to move to a bi-monthly newsletter. It will continue to contain details of events for your diary, group news but also editorials. So this is the last monthly newsletter. September will be the first bi-monthly newsletter and will cover October events as well. We are sorry that we have had to make this decision but it was necessary.

We also welcome this month three new committee members. Nic Pettit is leaving us as treasurer and his replacement is Rwth Hunt. We have also been joined by Fiona Chamberlain (Trips) and Linda Marlton (Publicity).                                                                                                                                          Pam Young

 Environmental Group

Some of you have asked about setting up an Environmental Group with a view to arranging activities such as beach cleans, litter picking or tree planting.   This is an excellent idea but would need someone with the knowledge, skills and time to step forward as Convenor.  Anyone who has ever been involved with these types of activities will know that they may require specialist knowledge of risk assessments and of health and safety – not to mention complications with insurance – so are not to be undertaken lightly.

It is also important that u3a be seen as part of, not separate from, the local community and there are already some well-established environmental activities in the Minehead area which u3a members could take part in as individuals:

  • Plastic Free Communities in West Somerset/Surfers Against Sewage regularly arrange beach cleans and Minehead Wombles hold regular litter picks.  Both groups promote these on social media.
  • Somerset Wildlife Trust and Exmoor National Park arrange a variety of activities in the area, of which details can be found on their websites or on social media.

Some among you may be interested in participating in these events but may not be confident enough to join in on your own.  It’s possible that even if a group cannot be set up there could be an informal network where individuals can keep in touch and arrange to meet up for these activities.  This could be done either via our own Facebook page or by email.

Medicine Blister Packs

You may well be wondering what blister packs have to do with u3a.  The sad, hard truth is that most of us of a certain age will be taking at least one type of medication and quite likely throwing any number of empty blister packs in the bin.  However – and some of you hopefully are already aware of this – some Superdrug shops will take the empty blister packs and Minehead is one that does.  How about we collect them at the Coffee Morning – if someone is willing to volunteer to take them in to the shop?

Please let us know your thoughts on either of these issues, initially to and we will update everyone in the next Newsletter.

News from the Groups

Group convenor contact details


New Convenors Needed!

Interest groups waiting for convenors …..  A few people have asked whether the Poetry Group is likely to re-start and there has also been some interest in a Radio Hams or Enthusiasts Group. We also have waiting lists for many of our existing groups (Book groups are always popular). What we really need is new people to offer to become convenors for these groups.

The role of convenor is not complicated and it can actually be very rewarding – it is a great way to meet new people and make friends who have similar interests.

You will be fully supported in how to get your group started by the Group Co-ordinator and she will offer ongoing advice and, if needed, can link you with another convenor who can also offer support.

Once the group has been set up, the role really just requires you to keep a list of members and let them know when and where to meet. It is easiest if you are able to offer your own home for meetings, but we know this is not always an option and can help you explore options within the various meeting rooms in and around Minehead.

If a community room is being used, the convenor will need to book it, arrange collection of money from Group Members to cover the costs and then make the payment. There is no obligation to provide refreshments – that can be decided within the group. There is also the possibility of meeting in local cafes, pubs or hotels – many are happy for you to meet there on condition everyone buys refreshments. 

Support and advice from the Committee and the Group Co-ordinator and other convenors is always there for anyone who needs it.

If you would be interested in finding out more about becoming a convenor please contact me by email at and we can chat about what is involved over a coffee.                                                                                                                                                                         Linda Bradburn

Birdwatching                                                                                                    Kay Bullen

Our June meeting was to Simonsbath, which is usually a good place for Cuckoo, but sadly none were even heard this year.  It was a really hot day, but we took it slowly, stopping where we could in the shade.  We manage to see 16 different species with a further 8 that were heard but not seen.  Whinchat, Reed Bunting and Grey Wagtail were amongst those seen.  A full list is available on the group’s web pages.

Our next outing is on the 15th July with an evening visit up North Hill to hopefully hear Nightjars.  Then on 19th August another trip up North Hill but this time in daylight.  I will be in touch with members nearer the time about these meetings.                                    

French Conversation                                                                                       Di Martin

This month’s theme was a musical one – French songs from our collective youth. It was a real trip down memory lane; taking us back to songs learned at school and songs of love and angst from our teenage years. We had Mireille Mathieu, Jacques Dutronc, and Marcel Zanini – all on 7″ EPs (“what were they, grandma?”). We had assorted folk songs – to which we sang along – and which we discovered to be somewhat scary, blood-thirsty and violent. We were also introduced to all the verses of La Marseillaise – also bloody and belligerent. As a by-way we learned how little we knew about our own National Anthem – who composed it, when and for whom? This theme still has a way to go so we will continue it at next month’s meeting.              

General History                                                                                                Jane Sperring

This cartoon from Punch illustrates not only the attacks on the toll gates by the ‘Rebeccas’ – men dressed as women, it also highlights the other injustices against which they were protesting.  Robert Peel can be seen peeping out – this illustrates the lack of action taken by the authorities.

In June we welcomed two new members to our group and heard all about the Rebecca Riots that took place in Wales in the early 19th century. Although they are usually associated with attacks on toll gates almost half of them were about general economic conditions in the countryside.  After refreshments we heard about life in 17th century Watchet and about Prince Arthur, one of Victoria’s children and Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender.

Our main topic in July will be a talk on Witches and then continuing with our theme of royalty that didn’t sit on the English Throne, we will hear about Matilda, the Duke of Kent and William, one of Victoria’s other children.

In August we will meet on Tuesday 16th August (not our usual Monday) and have a quiz to see how much we have remembered from our talks over the past year! This will be followed by a cream tea, hopefully in the garden.

Mahjong Mixers                                                                                                 Alan Eagle

Our new MahJong Beginners group has now completed twelve sessions, so we might almost be called an ‘Improvers’ group. We would like to hear from any other u3a members who wish to learn this stimulating game and we would be pleased to welcome them for a trial session.

Currently we play at our home in Watchet at 2:30pm on the first and third Monday of each month. We shall be transferring to a local hall when we achieve more members. MahJong is a tactile and sociable game played with tiles. It requires 80% luck and 20% skill; we play for points and not money. Please contact us via the Contacts page if you would like to try us out, or for more information

Geology                                                                                                                         Catherine Knight

This group is currently in abeyance and is looking for new members and a new convenor.  However, a few members of the original group continue to work with other u3a Geology groups.

In June, two members of our u3a and six members of the Wells u3a Geology group took 4½ hours to walk along the beach from Watchet to Blue Anchor in glorious sunshine. We considered coastal erosion and saw recent rock falls and landslides, one of them major. We had a geologist with us so we could identify the predominantly grey Jurassic Lias and shale and the red Triassic Mercia Mudstone rocks in the cliffs with their colourful rock strata. In places, the rocks are heavily banded with gypsum, ranging in colour from white to bright orange.  This is locally called alabaster and is collected and carved by local craftspeople. We also found a layer of calcitic “beef” gypsum which was new to most of us.  The cliffs are heavily faulted, the Watchet and Blue Anchor faults being the most dramatic, but there are many others.  The faults and the numerous folds create fascinating patterns in the cliffs (see photo).  We looked at the limestone pavements and the associated synclines, anticlines and periclines on the beach.  We investigated the different shells in the shell beds and looked for ammonites amongst the fallen rocks.  The ammonites ranged in size from 1 cm to nearly 1 m in diameter and some still showed their pearlescent sheen.  We ended the walk with a welcome cup of tea and slice of cake at the Driftwood café. Photo credit: Warren Bay circular rock formation Photo: Cherrie Temple

More details about the Geological work still being done by u3a members can be found on the Geology page of the website. 

If you are interested in Geology or becoming a member or convenor of the group, please contact Cherrie Temple for more information by emailing her via the Contacts page

Lunch Club                                                                                                    Lori Lee

This month we visited the Hood Arms at Kilve for lunch.  Food was very nice, menu varied including good fish options on a specials board, vegetarian available and great friendly service. 

Main course and pudding with soft drink approx. £22-£25.  Parking is outside the pub if you get there early or there is a car park across the road with plenty of room.  

We had a good time and comments were as follows:

  ‘So good we must do it again!’
  ‘Flavours were wonderful. Risotto followed by crème brûlée with roasted plums!’
  ‘Toblerone cheesecake my favourite on menu’
  ‘Very generous portions!’
  ‘Another great meal!  Can they get any better!’
  ‘Lovely food and very friendly service!’

Next month Thursday 28th July the venue is Rest and be Thankful at Wheddon Cross.  Please add your name to reserve list if you would like to join group at a later date.

Nature Amblers                                                                                        Sarah Stringer

On a hot sunny morning in June, 10 of us met for an amble at Dunster Beach.  First, we strolled along the cycle path towards Blue Anchor, where flowers bloomed in variety and profusion, the tree mallow being particularly spectacular.  We then ambled between the beach and the car park towards the chalets where the flora changed to coast loving plants.  The blue and pink viper’s bugloss, yellow horned poppies, mauve opium poppies and escaped garden poppies were all in full bloom and made a beautifully colourful display loved by bees and other insects, many of which we couldn’t identify.  On the shingle we saw sea beet and sea rocket as well as storksbill and yellow stonecrop.  In total, we identified over 65 wild flowers, insects and birds.

On Wednesday 27 July, starting promptly at 10 am, we will go on a gentle exploration of an area of North Hill, Minehead looking to see what flora and fauna we can find.  After that, we will meet on Wednesday 24 August at 10 am, the venue has yet to be decided.

If you are interested in any aspect of nature, why not join one of our gentle strolls.  We have spaces for new members who are always welcome. Please contact Sarah Stringer via the Contacts page

Photography                                                                                                   Stewart Lane

The theme for member’s photographs in May was “Relaxation”. This produced a very wide range of pictures, reflecting each member’s view of exactly what was “relaxation”!  Images of walking, fishing & simply lying down were popular, but for others it was a day out or even being on roller-blades!   When we met in June the meeting started with a terrific presentation by member Steve Presnell entitled “Less is more”.  This demonstrated wonderfully how some of the most fascinating images have a limited range of contents, giving a sparse, sometimes an almost empty feeling.  Much for members to reflect on there!  We also showed our own photographs on the theme of “Walls & Bridges”: most from nearby – Dunster, Horner, Lynmouth etc – but also some European images.  Basil Helman’s two-tone image of Tarr steps (see photo) offers a novel presentation of a well-known view, but the full range from both months are on the u3a website and well worth a browse!


Vintage Books                                                                           Pam Bartlett

In June we discussed the books of R.F. Delderfield.  Best known for his sagas such as the Swann and Horseman Riding By series, he also wrote various other novels including To Serve Them All My Days and The Avenue.  His books often reflect his own outlook – he was a traditionalist who believed in the values of community and of hard work but he was very much a Liberal in his political beliefs. 

In spite of the attitudes of the time in which he grew up he does not give the impression of being ‘classist’ or a snob, or xenophobic.  The only criticism that can perhaps be made against him is his attitude to women, although he wasn’t really a misogynist. He admired strong, intelligent women but he seemed to believe that they should be where he believed they should be and where he believed they themselves really believe they want to be ……………………

He had a great interest in the French Revolution and Napoleon in particular.  As well as a couple of novels he produced several non-fiction works on the subject.  He also loved the novel Treasure Island and not only was this a favourite for many of his characters, he wrote a kind of supplement to it entitled The Adventures of Ben Gunn.  He also wrote a number of plays, one of which – The Bull Boys – was the inspiration for the first Carry On film, Carry On Sergeant.

Walking Cricket                                                                                   John Batt

After our 6 week introduction to the game finishing on Friday 29th July, we are planning to keep the group going but not on Fridays,  probably Thursday afternoons from the first week in August, weather permitting, until October.
The game is played on the hard court area at Minehead Community Centre with plastic cricket bats and a soft ball. You bat for a number of overs. You are never out, you just lose runs from your total.  You score ‘runs’ by hitting different parts of the fencing. Everyone bowls, overarm if you can, but underarm is fine. It’s great light exercise and good fun.
Somerset Cricket have kindly offered to donate our first set of equipment, which will be stored at the Community Centre, so we are good to start a u3a Walking Cricket group, but a few more members are needed.