Ramsey and District u3a


A Happy New Year to all our u3a members

Our Chairman, Jane Cusworth, welcomed members old and new and visitors to our meeting. The usual housekeeping notices were read, with a reminder that tables and chairs in the foyer were reserved for those who were less able. Hand sanitiser is available and please wear masks, we need to remain vigilant as Covid numbers are still at a high. A big thank you to all who helped to make our Christmas party such a success.

To support the 40th Anniversary of the u3a, Head office has suggested that trees be planted in the Brecon Beacons and that individual u3a’s can donate funds to this end. Each tree costs £7.50, this covers the planting and 12 years support. A collection tin will be placed in the foyer at each meeting for members contributions.

 We need members to volunteer to serve on the committee, three members will be standing down from their duties in the New Year, please talk to committee members if you feel the need to join. We are hosting a meet and greet meeting on 11th February 2022, so that new members can meet the Group Co-ordinator and Group leaders. The 2022 holiday will be ‘Irish House Party’, 27th June to 1st July, reconvened from 2020. We hope to resume our day trips in 2022, and our trips committee will be meeting to look at future day trips. Our R&D website is up and running, please consult it, have a look at the calendar to see when your favourite group is next meeting!

The Groups Co-ordinator then read out the Group news for this month. Most groups are now available. Currently, the walking group are unable to continue, as Maureen has been unable to find a group leader. The mixed craft group that was led by Fran is looking for a new leader, we would like to thank Fran for her sterling work in leading this group from the start of our u3a. The Metal Detecting group are looking for new members, please speak to Dave Cusworth if you fancy giving metal detecting a go! New registers are available for Group leaders. We are introducing a coloured disc feed-back system to see how the speakers perform!

Jane then introduced the speaker for this afternoon’s talk, by historian and author Michael Brown, his subject “Poisonous plants, Magic, Myth, Murder and Passion.”

Michael began his talk with stories about poisonous plants that could be found in the garden and in the countryside, with a proviso that facts be checked with the RHS website before using any! Copies of his books can be ordered from bookshops and Amazon!

There were more than twenty plants in the talk which were all poisonous to either people or pets, so I intend to cover some of them in this newsletter.

The first was Mandrake, all parts of this plant contain tropane alkaloids and are considered poisonous, it was thought that this plant screamed as it was dug out of the ground and the digger fell into a deep sleep. If you could get your dog to dig out the root, then it would fall asleep not you!

The next is Deadly Nightshade where the foliage and berries are extremely poisonous as are the flowers, the plant can grow to about six foot and looks like a small cherry tree. A child eating only eight berries can die.

Our next plant is Henbane, which is highly poisonous, it has a long history as a toxic as well as a beneficial medicinal plant. It is claimed that it could kill hens, reduce pain and cure toothache.

The next plant is Morning Glory, the seeds of which can produce a similar effect to LSD, so is used by hippies as a cheap alternative. It is claimed that the Aztecs used the seeds to dope their victims before ritual sacrifice.

Our next plant is Wormwood, which is a bitter herb known for being an ingredient – in olden times – in absinthe, but its plant compound thujone can be toxic and fatal. Don’t worry, absinthe today, is made from a chemical formula.

The final plant is Hemlock, this plant has historical background as Socrates drank cups of hemlock as he was proved guilty of corrupting the youth of Athens. This plant is acutely toxic to people and animals, all parts of the plant are poisonous.

 A short question and answer session followed about Arsenic in wallpaper and Laburnum seeds are they poisonous? All parts are poisonous.

Our chair thanked Michael for a most enjoyable afternoon and a very interesting talk, we then broke for tea, coffee, and biscuits.

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Next Meetings

 The next general meeting will take place on Tuesday 8th February at the Community Centre, Stocking Fen Road, Ramsey, starting at 2.00pm. This will be a talk by Charlotte Griggs about the East Anglian Children’s Hospice

And Finally

Car Parking – Please remember to park your car considerately and use car sharing if you are able.


I asked my daughter if she ‘d seen my newspaper. She told me that newspapers are old school. She said that people use tablets nowadays and handed me her iPad. The fly didn’t stand a chance.

Everybody knows that 40 is the new 30, right? But the police officer giving me a speeding ticket couldn’t be persuaded.

What is pointless? To tell a bald chap a hair-raising story.

Why do bees hum? They don’t remember the words!