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Newsletter (March 2024)


Wishing everyone a Happy Easter.

Welcome to your March, nearly April, Newsletter. And it’s another bumper one, so please read on.

A spicy treat

As promised, here is our first recipe from Harsha’s Kitchen and we are looking forward to many more of her tasty dishes.

If the Easter weather isn’t playing ball and you are sick of Easter eggs, why not try some Spicy Rice.

Harsha says this delicious brunch/lunch recipe is great for using mostly store-cupboard ingredients, left-over rice and vegetables which you may already have in your fridge/salad drawer.

Harsha in her kitchen

Masala bhatt – Spicy Rice

Serves 2


  • 2 cups left over rice – or cooked rice which has been completely cooled.
  • Half a red pepper and half a green pepper.
  • 2 or 3 sliced baby sweetcorn – I happened to have these in.
  • I small potato cut into thin batons – these veggis to be lightly fried in a bit of oil before-hand.
  • I small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 to 4 curry leaves and one bay leaf
  • Fresh ginger, green chilly and garlic paste – about 1 teaspoon
  • Salt to taste
  • Half a teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Half a teaspoon garam masala
  • Two to three tablespoons of tomato, diced small – or use tinned tomatoes
  • One tablespoon natural yogurt
  • Oil for tempering with – half teaspoon of black mustard seed, half a teaspoon
  • Cumin seeds
  • Fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Small handful of cashew nuts/almonds lightly roasted (optional)
  • A squeeze of lemon juice.
Delicious spicy rice


Add the oil to a wok style pan and once hot, temper it with mustard seeds (waiting for them to crackle before you add the cumin seeds). Add the onion and curry leaves, fry for a couple of minutes until soft.

Add the tomatoes, and allow to cook for a minute or so then add the salt and turmeric and also the ginger/chilli/garlic paste.

Allow to cook until the tomatoes are mushed up. Add the bay leaf. Turn the heat to low and add the yogurt and stir well, making sure the sauce doesn’t split. Once properly mixed, add all the vegetables and the rice and toss carefully so that sauce coats the rice.

Add a squeeze of lemon juice, fresh coriander and the nuts. Enjoy with poppadums, cucumber raita and a fresh salad.

Tip: You can omit the yogurt if you want a vegan dish. (although the yogurt does give it a lovely flavour) You can use any vegetable you want – lightly steamed cauliflower and broccoli work wonderfully and even a handful of finely chopped spinach.

Stepping back in time…

We’ve been going a bit historical in March.

It started with a trip back in time at Hoghton Tower where members were given a tour of the home of the De Hoghton family and where it is rumoured the SIr Loin of beef was knighted.

Ladies of the Tower

The group had an interesting and informative tour from a volunteer guide who was passionate about his subject. They also learned about the sinister burn marks and graffiti said to ward off evil spirits.

Lord and Lady of the Manor!

They could have done with some ‘spirits’ as it was a bit on the chilly side for the outdoor part of the tour – but yummy cakes by a roaring fire were most welcome.

Warming up in the tea room

It was a case of all the world was a stage when a group visited the Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot.

Who knew how historic the old market town was with its links to Henry V1 stretching through to the 21st century, via Kings College, Cambridge, through to it successfully bidding for the new theatre.

From the outside the £38m building is a modern shell, but inside is a fantastic theatre in the round which is an authentic as can be copy of the original London Globe, made with 60 tons of green oak and not a screw, nail or drop of glue to hold it all together – just Elizabethan style joints.

The theatre in the round – at least the seats were padded!

The theatre is run as a charity and was 20 years to come to fruition – it took two years to build – and holds 470 seats in the round. One of the reasons Prescot won the bid to build the Playhouse was because in Elizabethan days it had a ‘Playhouse’ in the town, the only one outside London.

The new ‘Globe’ has bee hives on the roof, first started by some squatting Italian bees, who have since moved on. The bees provide all the beeswax for some of the most expensive props – the candles used in the productions.

There are some Elizabethan sayings – mainly to do with toilets! – which still exist today, such as ‘Spend a penny’ and ‘It’s the pits’ (literally from the poor folk who paid a penny entrance to the theatre and in those days there were no loos). I’ll leave that to the imagination.

The Black Work banner

There’s a beautiful Black Work needlework display which was carried out during Covid and tells the stories of Elizabethan days. There is also an outdoor theatre space named in memory of Ken Dodd.

It is well worth a visit and watch out for some theatre trips.

RATNOTE: While waiting for our train back home, we were bemused by lots of green boxes along the platforms at Prescot.

Then we realised why. Across the platform was a very busy RAT scurrying around, looking for an afternoon snack. We were sure Mr Rat had some relatives nearby but we didn’t hang about to meet any!

It appears they love Merseyside as every station we passed there were the same green rat traps – we know because our Chair Ann counted them all …… that was until we entered the safety of Lancashire, and not one to be seen!

History closer to home

April’s speaker

Continuing the history theme, did you know Brindle had a workhouse?
One man who knows all about it is one of our members, Bernard Fleming and he will tell the fascinating tale at April’s Speaker Meeting, next Wednesday, April 3.

Welcome to the workhouse

This institution operated for 150 years and held 200 to 300 ‘paupers and lunatics’ at its peak, but despite making the national press twice due to the conditions and regime there, has been largely lost to living memory. 

It’s a sizable slice of local history that had been consigned to the ‘Probably best forgotten’ box.  Bernard’s talk will at least try to recognise some of the people involved and what life was like there.

The meeting starts at 10.30am and entry is £2 which can be paid by card or in cash. Refreshments are included.

Let Mike Parker know if you need a parking space next to the clubhouse and don’t forget there is level access at the rear of the building if needed.  

*Mike, who organisers all our Speakers, also has a word of thanks for member Chris Howard for his assistance in identifying a suitable wireless lapel microphone which is compatible with the current sound system in the clubhouse – ‘an issue which is way above my pay grade!’ he added.

He also wants thank members who were at the Sid Calderbank talk for their generous donations to the Lifeboats which amounted to £70.07.

For those didn’t make Sid’s talk, here’s a taste of what you missed. Thanks to Geoff for the video.

Sid Calderbank

Natural History Group date

One for the diary – the next meeting is on Friday, April 5, a walk around Worden Park being led by Sally. Meet at the car park at 1.30pm.

Unfortunately, Tricia is struggling to walk too far at the moment, hope you are back to full stride soon.

Wheels and walks

We have a bit of an album here from the recent walks and the first cycle ride to Croston, all thanks to Dean.

The cycle group on their first outing to Croston
The Rivington ramblers
Followed by the Rivington scramblers!
On their way to the Ribble and Darwen river valleys
Give Cath a hand!

A welcome shout out……….

We have had lots of new members since January so we thought we’d give them a big HELLO to our u3a.

So welcome to Ray Dry, Christine Heskin, Joseph Heskin, Angela Jaynes, Ruth Jones, Faith Lees, Marilyn Mockett, Peter Mockett, Laura Pringle, Michael Pringle, Christopher Rothwell and Pauline Tattersall.

Summer school

School may be out for the youngsters, but not for the u3a.

Its Summer School will be held at the University of Cumbria’s Fusehill Street Campus in Carlisle, from Tuesday, August 13 to Friday, August 16.

And it’s an action packed stay with sessions on everything from archaeology, art, literature, genealogy and ukulele. There is a full board option or non residential day delegates. The campus has modern facilities with student en-suite rooms. More details available from Alan Hough on 07544 359125 or at alanhough1949@gmail.com

Talking of summer….

It’s growing season, time to get the spades out.

Why not join the ‘Grow your own’ group – formerly the Allotment Group.

The name change is reflect that some members may be growing fruit and veg in other places other than an allotment. Check it out on the groups section of the website.

Book a holiday and get our u3a some cash

Did you know that if you book a holiday with Riviera Travel and say you are a u3a member – our u3a gets 10%?

That means more money for our funds to spend on you.

The national u3a also offers a discount scheme through its Click and Save scheme where there are savings on brands including Sainsbury’s, Pizza Express, Currys and M&S. Click here to find out more https://www.u3aclickandsave.co.uk/x_/

While we are on the subject of holidays – does anyone have any interesting tales about their getaways.

Have you been penguin spotting in Antarctica, or a safari in Africa? Or you may have enjoyed a week in the sun in some exotic part of the globe. If you’d like to share your exploits, let Lynn know at the bottom of this newsletter.

I’d like to feature a question and answer feature, letting other members know about some of the best hotspots, tips on what to see etc. So get in touch via the form at the bottom.

Policies and documents

While there is always lots to do at our u3a, sometimes we forget the behind-the-scenes information.

All our policies and statements are available on the website for your perusal. Just look under the Menu button and click on Documents.

Looking forward…….

There’s lots of things being lined up for 2024, with outings and theatre visits as well as all your well-loved groups. Keep an eye on the website and your monthly newsletter.

Some members seem surprised when I mention some of the groups, especially the theatre and social outings ones. So please have a look on the website and just join whichever groups you fancy and fill in the form at the bottom of that page – that way you will receive emails about forthcoming events.

Look forward to lots of laughing, learning and living, with your WPVu3a.

Don’t struggle

Anyone who struggles with the website can find help by clicking on the Help option from the website menu.

Anyone having difficulty getting to meetings, we can reserve a parking spot right next to the clubhouse. Just let us know. There is also step free access into the clubhouse.

National news

Don’t forget your can get all the national u3a news as well as lots of info about different courses etc at the national u3a website.

We hope you have enjoyed this month’s newsletter. If you have any contributions please contact Lynn using the form below.

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