Category Archives: Past events

Pembrokeshire U3A vs Narberth U3A quiz

Six teams from Pembrokeshire U3A entered the Narberth U3A annual general knowledge quiz on 18th November, & answered questions on ten subjects ranging from “quotations” to “food & drink” to “music” to “inventions”.

We gained revenge for the result at our own quiz in May, when teams from Narberth finished 1st & 2nd, with our team of David & Chris Pinch, Helen Kift & Peter Brown finishing first by a whisker from Anne & Derek Church & Marcia Heaviside.

This is the third year of these successful events, & once again we were made to feel very welcome by our hosts. Chairman Penny Thomas thanked Narberth for their hospitality, & in particular organiser Juliet Burgess for her hard work

Welsh Wildlife Trust – Monthly meeting – June

Nathan Walton of the Welsh Wildlife Trust gave a most interesting talk about his work of conservation and management of the Trust’s 15 Reserves situate in Pembrokeshire.  The Reserves cover an area of some 775 hectares 319 owned by the Trust and the remainder on lease from the National Trust and Pembrokeshire County Council.

Nathan Walton 2

Nathan, with the aid of slides, gave us an insight as to what we might find at the various Reserves advising the site at West Williamson to be his favourite but with a tinge of regret he indicated was not owned by the Trust but the National Trust.   On this 20 hectare site one may see Curlews, and the elusive Brown Hair Streak butterfly that lays its eggs on the blackthorn which is the subject of a five year management scheme to ensure it is of the right size and structure to attract this beautiful butterfly.

Each Reserve has its own particular flora and wildlife, herons and, occasionally an osprey may be seen at Westfield Pill in Neyland.   Pengelli Reserve of some 65 hectares is the site of the largest ancient coppiced oak woodland in Wales.

Would you like to see some swamp buffalo then Teifi Marshes is the place to visit, these ponderous looking beasts do a magnificent job of keeping the waterways clear by feeding and wallowing in the water.

A most interesting talk, we live in a beautiful County it is good to know it is being looked after by organisations such as the Welsh Wildlife Trust who rely upon volunteers to carry out a lot of the “donkey work”.

Penny Thomas

2nd June 2016

SSAFA – Monthly Meeting – April 2016

Valerie Griggs


The Speaker at the meeting on 7th April 2016 was Valerie Griggs who spoke of the work undertaken by SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors & Airmen Families Association).

Valerie, the wife of a retired Naval Officer, came to Pembrokeshire when her husband was appointed as the Royal Naval liaison officer working with the American Navy at Brawdy. When he retired they settled in here where they had grown to feel at home.

When the British Army first fought overseas soldiers were given their pay direct leaving their wives and dependants without any means of financial support resulting in many living in a state of destitution. At the time of the First World War an association was formed to take care of dependants of those soldiers serving overseas thus saw the beginning of SSAFA. In later years the Navy and Air Force joined, forming the Association as it is today. Valerie explained the levels of the lifelong support, covering both material and emotional needs.

Whilst Valerie’s interesting talk was locally based and drawn from personal experience, a short DVD of the work undertaken really emphasised the importance of the Association as it is today. The talk was informative and brought to our attention the various needs of our veteran and serving forces.

Penny Thomas

7th April, 2016


Group Leaders/New Members Meeting

On the morning of 30th March the above meeting was held at the hall in Merlins Bridge.

Without our Group Leaders we would not have a U3A and equally without a flow of new members we would fade away. The meeting included nineteen Group Leaders and ten new members.  It was pleasing to see so many group leaders who introduced themselves indicating their own group and representing those Leaders who were unable to attend.

The discussion was lively with a new member keen to join the Mah Jong group and others expressing an interest in one of the, always popular, walking groups and the table tennis.  We are most fortunate in the number of diverse groups on offer; the new members became aware they could have both their bodies and their minds exercised!

Should you have an interest not covered by one of the groups why not start your own?  The committee and the National Resource Centre will give you as much help as you may need in setting up a group.

May I on behalf of the Committee extend a big thank you to all the Group Leaders who give freely of their time enabling us to have a great and growing U3A.

Penny Thomas

30th March 2016

U3A Expedition on the “Heart of Wales” line to Shrewsbury

U3A Expedition on “The Heart of Wales Line” to Shrewsbury

 Pembrokeshire U3A meet Charles Darwin

Seven Pembrokeshire U3A members embarked on the two day return trip to Shrewsbury along the Heart of Wales Railway Line.  We made use of the Arriva Club 55 Scheme that allows one to travel anywhere in Wales and parts of the West Midlands of England for £24.00 return.  This linked in with the ability to use a bus pass issued in Wales to travel anywhere from Swansea to Shrewsbury.  The club 55 Scheme ends on the 27th February and free travel using a bus pass end at the end of March 2016

 One of Britain’s little used stations!   “Tiny Stations” by Dixie Wills published by AA Books 2014 ……. an uncommon odyssey through Britain’s railway request stops p89

Catching the early train from Milford we arrived in Swansea with a half an hour wait before setting off in the quaint single coach train to Shrewsbury.  We were stunned to find the train packed with travellers.  Every seat was taken and some had to stand.  Another more, a pleasant surprise was to meet a small party of Llanelli U3A Bowls Group heading to Shrewsbury and staying in the same hotel as us!

Travelling along the Heart of Wales Line you cannot fail to be impressed by its rugged beauty.  The weather was splendid – bright and sunny, so we had magnificent views of tranquil villages and the picturesque spa towns scattered along the 121 miles between Swansea and Shrewsbury.  It was a feast of panoramic views including the beautiful Llwchwr estuary near Llanelli, the meandering river Tywi between Llandeilo and Llandovery.  We saw red kites in the skies above the Eppynt Hills overlooking Llanwrtyd Wells (the smallest town in the UK) and LLangammarch.  Then on into what was the Radnor Forest, and through Llandrindod Wells and Knighton, to the remote borderlands of the English Marches.  In passing we crossed the magnificent curved Cynghordy Viaduct and on to the summit (the highest point on the line) and the Sugar Loaf Tunnel.  Later came the Knucklas Viaduct with its 13 arches and looking down on the village nestled in the valley below.

 Wandering around Shrewsbury

At about 1.30pm we pulled into Shrewsbury’s fine old railway station, and took the short walk to the Premier Inn to check in and for a brief rest before setting out to explore the town.  The seven of us wandered through the town centre getting our bearings, looking for somewhere for our evening meal and taking in the atmosphere of this fine old market town. Colin nearly bought an astronomical telescope that featured in a shop window, and as we returned to the hotel passing the Castle, we came upon the County Library with a fine bronze statue of Charles Darwin gracing the entrance.  A kind American tourist took our photo with the ‘great man’ gazing down at us.  In the end, and because no-one wanted to face the cold outside, we decided to eat at the hotel.  We passed a convivial evening chatting, eating and drinking together.

The following morning after breakfast we disappeared into the town sightseeing and shopping.   There was so much to see before returning to the station by 2.00pm for our return journey.  Scrobberbyrig, the Saxon name for the town, looked beautiful in the winter sun.  With the River Severn looping round the old town and the famous English and Welsh bridges.  We saw Laura’s Tower in the grounds of Shrewsbury Castle which also houses the Shropshire Regimental Museum.  We had little time to explore the medieval buildings and the narrow passages between them, but some of us managed to wandered through Wyle Cop with its numerous black & white buildings – the Tudor Mansion being a splendid example.   Some saw the imposing St Chad’s Church, which features the tombstone of Ebeneezer Scrooge in the churchyard, but, of course, he is not buried there.  Scrooge is a fictional character from Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol”.  His grave is a prop left over from the filming of the entire story in Shrewsbury  in 1984.  Finally Shrewsbury Museum is well worth a visit with some excellent displays and a rather special cafe,  that hosted a large party of knitters while we took a break.

Everyone made it safely back to the train, which fortunately was not as crowded for our return journey.          Geoff Winterman

Gardening Group visit the National Botanical Garden

Gardening Group

On the morning of 10 September 40 members of the group to include 3 from Narberth U3A boarded a coach bound for The National Botanical Gardens of Wales, the last time we undertook such a trip was in January 2014.  It was decided to make this trip following a talk given by the curator Mr Simon Goodenough who indicated September was his favourite time in the garden and we could certainly see why.

Immediately, we were struck by the changes that had been made particularly to the long boarder leading up to the dome, rather than the random herbaceous plants with a multitude of colours this has now been replaced by a softer colour planting ranging  from the soft pinks of the geraniums and phlox to lavender, and on to the deeper shades of the many asters (we tend to call Michaelmas daisies) and finally tall purple verbena the feature of many dried flower arrangements a plant that appears frequently in the areas leading up to the dome.  A pathway has been laid adjacent to the boarder which takes the visitor to the rear of the plants an excellent addition.

The dome, of course, is amazing and one wonders at the feat of engineering in the construction in addition to the variety of plant is houses which we could not see unless we travelled to the far corners of the world,

The vegetable garden was spectacular with red and yellow stemmed chard, rows of runner beans, the unmistakeable tops of beetroot, turnips, swedes, wonderful red cabbages to name but a few.  Another new addition is a potager plot which combines both flowers and vegetables my particular favourite.

The sun shone all day and as we left the garden it was agreed it had been a fantastic trip

Penny Thomas  10 September 2015

September Monthly Meeting – Judith Barrow

The attendance at our September meeting of 72 people reflected the interest in the speaker that morning – Judith Barrow, writer, teacher, author.

Judith Barrow
Judith began by telling us a little about her background – she left school after her G.C.E.s, worked in the Civil Service, moved to Wales 38 years ago to live in a house they were building in the middle of a field whilst bringing up their twins!

20 years ago, after contracting breast cancer she completed a degree course with the Open University & then went on to obtain a Masters degree at Trinity College. After this she wrote plays, poems & short stories but Judith went back to her roots in Oldham to do the research for the first book in her trilogy – Pattern of Shadows. The Glen Mill had been converted into a Prisoner of War Camp in 1939 and going there had brought back memories to Judith of how she used to go & meet her Mother at the mill where she worked, after school. The main character, Mary Howarth goes on to feature in the other two books – Changing Shadows & Living in The Shadows.

Judith leads creative writing groups in Narberth, Tenby & Pembroke Dock and many people showed an interest in the possibility of a creative writing group for Pembrokeshire U3A.
This was a lively, interesting talk given by a remarkable & inspiring lady.


Intrepid Rovers

I thought you might like to see this photo which I took of the Rovers on their  recently billed “adventurous” 7 mile walk near Login.

The “bridge “ is a fallen tree with the rounded edge shaved off to make a crossing. The supports and rail/rope were put into place by the walks co-ordinator and myself prior to the walk.

At the end of the walk 4 said they wanted medals 3 said they would view with gravest suspicion any future walks that I planned , 6 were too tired to say anything and my wife said she wanted a quiet word when we got home!

Fortunately, on completion, they were somewhat mollified by the teas and cakes at the Cardi-Bach celebration at Login “Station”.

Regards   Brian Ball


Monthly Meeting May 2015

Doctor Roger Burns talk about Bee-keeping


So far this year,  Speakers  attending  our monthly meetings have advised us how, at our mature time of life,  we could aspire to be better drivers, of the diverse life on our Pembrokeshire seashore and shop keeping in the Tudor times today Doctor Roger Burns (now retired) enthused on the virtues of bee keeping.

Doctor Burns left his technical gear on the table, instead preferring to give us a broad outline of bee keeping then inviting questions from the floor, ably assisted by his bee keeping assistant Nick.   He opened the talk by enquiring firstly were there any bee keepers amongst us?  There were one or two.  He went on to ask whether anyone knew the name of the disease that threatens, and has in fact been largely been responsible for the decline in the honey bee population.  Top marks to our member who knew it is Varoa Destructor and earned a jar of honey for his knowledge!

As we know bees are pollinators, in some parts of the country farmers are willing to pay bee keepers to have hives sited on their land.  This fact leads to a question as to how bees find their way back to the hive.  Doctor Burns explained and went on to recommend a book titled “The Dancing Bees” by Karl von Frisch.  A copy was passed round, I feel certain it will find its way onto member’s book shelves.

We have surely all seen those plump bumble bees in our gardens.  Whilst  they also  pollinate, they  are not great producers of honey.  Amazingly there are 24 different types of bees but there are only 7 varieties of the Honey Bee.  The queen can lay up to 1000 eggs per day hence the saying “busy bee”.

This small insect is vital to the production of food for an ever growing world population.  Please bear this in mind, and plant something ”bee” friendly in your garden or window box.

Penny Thomas (Photos: GW)

April 2015 Monthly Meeting

Angela Jones – “The Tudor Merchant’s House in Tenby”

As I sat greeting members arriving for the monthly meeting I glanced up and for a few seconds became a time traveller, walking towards me was a Tudor maid, actually it was Angela Jones of the National Trust arriving to deliver a talk about the Tudor Merchant’s house in Tenby.
Using the heading “Survivor in Time” Angela gave a brief history of the property through its various stages of dereliction to the present day. The house is the oldest unaltered property in Tenby.

We were invited on a walk, figuratively speaking, and with the aid of modern technology through the dwelling. Firstly, into a display area, rather than a shop, here the merchant laid out his wares, small wooden bowls filled with spices the most valuable at the time being nutmeg. It was a sign of great wealth to extract from your pocket this small brown nut, so bear that in mind when next freely grating this over your rice pudding. Wooden casks containing various types of liquid beautifully fashion and capable of recycling at the end of their working days into quite comfortable looking chairs!

There are two upper floors, again these, through their decoration, reflecting this Tudor merchant was indeed a very rich gentleman. I found fascinating the sleeping arrangements, a beautiful four poster bed, however, overnight visitors also shared the bed not lying down but sitting up!

Angela gave a fascinating talk about the house and also explained her costume, under garments made of fine linen with a blue woollen dress. Whilst the under garments were periodically washed the dress, having been dyed using a vegetable dye, woad to treat this in the same way would have caused the dye to “wash out” and therefore there was need for an apron. However, the bodies they adorned did not undergo the same treatment, small wonder the original garden to the property incorporated a large herb growing area I suspect one use of these was to provide a bouquet to disguise a rather unsavoury smell about one’s person.

Penny Thomas
2 April 2015