BBQ (A balmy August evening & a barmy game of rounders) - Andrew & Veronica Heald
Yes, you've guessed it; Thursday 1st August saw members of 50+ gathered for their annual DIY barbeque and games evening at Stanion village hall and the weather was perfect.
Being 50+ virgins, we weren't sure what to expect but were greeted warmly and directed towards the bar to order our complementary drinks (always a good start).
Club members were already gathered, playing croquet, chattering in small groups or simply basking in the rays of the magnificent setting sun whilst one or two dedicated souls set to lighting the portable bbqs.
Soon everyone was getting down to the serious business of cooking their steaks, sausages, burgers, chicken pieces or whatever. We did spot a couple of rather scrummy looking kebabs but were content with the delicious sausages and lamb burgers we had brought along.
We're not sure whether it would have been more prudent to have held the game of rounders before we had eaten, but there was no shortage of members lining up to demonstrate their fitness or otherwise on the playing field, so maybe this was a tried and tested formula.
The rules must have changed since our schooldays, hence the description of 'barmy', but good humour prevailed and despite a distinctly failing light and some challenging and inventive bowling, everyone thoroughly entered into the spirit of just having fun. We've no idea which side won but it didn't matter one bit.
A lovely evening and hopefully the forerunner of many more interesting get togethers.
Multi-Activity at Grendon Hall - Various contributors
Swamp Ropes - Sharon Hunt
Green, thick and murky ......that's just the 50+ ers! The swamp didn't look any better.
Brilliant time was had by all. Cheers Pauline.
A sort of low rope Go Ape but with thick green swamp water underneath.
We all took our time crossing over this taking different routes, some braver than others, but we made it with no mishaps ...until the lily pad crossing!
I think the instructor just wanted to see us all fall in. We had to jump from pad to pad with the aid of a rope, trying to see how many people could balance on it before we could move on, the pad was slowly sinking, our feet were getting wet. "I'm not going in" someone shouted (Tracy) then promptly fell into the green sludge. THAT WAS FUNNY. Sorry Trace!
Archery - Steve O'Brien & Mary Lawson
Well the day dawned for our first 50+ adventure club activity. We arrived at Grendon and were introduced to and warmly welcomed by the members who were already there. The weather was set fairly unsettled, as we completed the formalities and were given our safety equipment. First up, Archery.
As it can be a dangerous sport, we were taken through the basics and given a safety brief - don't shoot the instructors, other participants, yourself or wildlife, I suspect in that order of priority. We were divided into groups and had several practice rounds. One of our new members could have given Robin Hood a run for his money, having never picked up a bow before, scoring a 9 and two 10's with his first three arrows - "beginners' luck" he shouted and he was right, it was all downhill from there.
Down to the serious business, we split into teams - there were burgers to be made (you had to be there). Suffice to say, the aim of the game was for each team to get an arrow into every colour on the target in the correct order to 'build' a burger. This task completed, we moved on to the more challenging swinging beer can. After several near misses, the beer can was eventually skilfully pierced by one thirsty gent (you know who you are). Finally, the main event. We were split into 2 teams for a test of skill, nerve, lots of running back & forward to a wall and shouts of, well... 'encouragement' from the opposing team. It was a competitive and close run thing, with the victory achieved by a narrow margin. Well done to all in our team!
Raft Building - Steve O'Brien & Mary Lawson
So to raft building, again having had the regulatory safety brief, were split into two teams, the blues & the greens. Having collected our appropriately coloured barrels, planks and lengths of rope we set to designing. While the greens pondered over two suggested designs, the blues quickly set to work on their creation with a degree of confidence, mmm... previous experience or just natural engineering talent? The blues finished their raft and sat relaxed watching the greens complete their labours. Then it was time to launch. Four of the members of each team, now sporting the latest in protective headgear & flotation devices, clambered carefully with their paddles onto their rafts at opposite end of the pool and set off to race two lengths of the outdoor pool. Disaster struck the blue team less than half way across, as all but one ended in the water, despite her valiant efforts, the green teams' 4 strong crew powered ahead. That is until a mysterious extra form of propulsion 'appeared' from behind and beneath the blue raft. Cries of 'foul play' went up - moral victory to the greens, I think! Next challenge was how many team members could get onto each raft. This was a short task, as both rafts immediately tipped their entire crews into the water, which to our surprise was heated! Bliss. Anyway that task rapidly degenerated into piracy as each team tried to disassemble the other's raft in the pool. Despite Herculean efforts and lots of grunting, the blue team was unable to dismantle the green boat and had to resort to dragging it out and 'capturing' it. A short period of calm then ensued as both teams floated around in the nice warm water until mention of lunch was made and the pool emptied rapidly.
Quad Biking - Steve O'Brien & Mary Lawson
Then the final activity of the day - well for our group at least. Having kitted ourselves in the obligatory helmet, goggles and gloves, we assembled excitedly in the tyre corral and listened attentively to our instructor. He, having assured himself of our 'proficiency' on the short course, released us onto the long track. Most of us drove somewhat tentatively for the first session as we negotiated the narrow twisty track, bumped over roots and generally avoided the trees and tyres.
The second session for each group saw the speed gradually increase until dust & dirt was being sprayed about at almost every turn. As the final session drew to a close, several retirements meant that it was just Mary & Carole, two sisters duelling it out. Faster & faster they went, neither seemingly able to gain a significant advantage until suddenly a shout of anguish was heard. We all looked to the left to see Carole in the tyre wall, the instructor jumped up & set off to rescue her... we thought, but we immediately realised that he was going in the opposite direction. Mary it seems had left the track at almost the same moment at the other end of the track (sister synchronised 'smashes'?) and he was actually going to help her. Eventually both were extricated from the tyres and came slowly around into the 'pits'. An exciting end to a very enjoyable activity.
Thanks to Pauline for organising the event - which was our first, it was a great day, great fun and we met a group of very nice, welcoming 'adventurers'.
Ed's note - many thanks Steve and Mary; you are excused from providing write-ups for the foreseeable future!
Summer Walk - Carol Pullen
We started the Summer Walk at the Iron Age Fort at Burrough on the Hill in Leicestershire and what a vantage point it was, situated on an ironstone promontory above the Wreake valley. Wonderful views, but that also meant that we were likely to descend, which of course we did into lovely woodland walks, fields of grass and oats and uphill to more stunning views.
We had plenty of places to catch our breath after a particular uphill struggle, a wait while someone retrieved their picnic blanket which had been dropped at the start of the woods and then of course the headlong rush to get to the pub in Somerby for a well deserved drink, or an ice cream or a Stilton sandwich and all before our picnic lunch!!
We left the pub (somewhat reluctantly?) and found a hill to sit and count sheep in the fields below. We were lucky enough to see a Lancaster and two Spitfires just as we started our picnic, possibly part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight which is based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, not far away as the crow flies and we saw plenty of them, crows I mean!! A kestrel flew below us looking for prey.
Then the final walk back to the car park passing through Burrough village, the churchyard where all the gravestones are in a straight line by the path, the fields of oats and uphill to the Iron Age Fort again. A good 7 mile walk, with good friends and good weather. Thank you Jane for organising it.
Sailing Day at Cransley 1 (or Three Men in a Boat) - Keith Merrick
Jerome K. Jerome had nothing on us. There was Paul at the helm - he worked out that it was 35 years since he had last sailed, Barry the virgin and me as ballast. l had just been out sailing with the Major for five minutes and so knew all about sailing and proceeded to teach the others! We had not intended to race but were challenged by Nigel (the chief instructor) and being men, we couldn't refuse. There were lots of bangs and before we realised the race had started, most had completed the first lap. We set off in hot pursuit and before long we overtook a swan (l don't think it was racing) and then one of the club members, so Paul was the hero of the day. We had some problems with red/green/port/starboard but l remembered the mnemonic "is there any RED PORT LEFT" (I've checked and the first m is there, but silent - like a p in long grass.) We didn't exactly win but we had a really great time - "the best Sunday of the year". Thanks to all who made it possible.
Sailing Day at Cransley 2 - Ros Fox
This was a fabulous day with lovely people. The whole experience was well organised and the sailing very exhilarating; I plan to join the sailing club when I can. I found the members very friendly and look forward to the next event that I can attend.
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