Segways - Mary Howarth
We duly assembled at the Segway centre in Mawsley on a beautiful morning. There were thirteen us, eight "experts" (because they had done this last year!) and five complete novices.
We split into two groups because there were only eight Segways and each group had a short period of instruction and then a tour of the grounds. t was much easier than I had anticipated and once I realised this I was able to relax and enjoy the morning. You simply lean forward to go forward and lean back to stop. To turn you merely moved the handlebars left or right.
Then we were let loose to roam over the course at will. It is a huge field with tall grass, shrubs and trees with paths mowed twisting and turning and criss-crossing. We took turns of about 15mins each and there was enough time for us all to have at least three goes.
It was great fun and thanks to Debbie for organising this event and to Pauline for looking after things on the day.
White Water Rafting - Martin Robinson
I was one of many people who were disappointed not to get canoeing tickets for last year's Olympics. Our trip to Lee Valley White Water Centre gave me the chance to make up for this by getting much closer to the water than I could have done last year.
The experience of going down the course is not to be forgotten. They were understandably paranoid about safety. I lost count of how many briefings we were given as we wound our way around the buildings collecting our gear. We all had to do a float test, we passed, so does this mean we are all witches? We then had to jump into the swirling water to prove we could swim.
I heard cries from the back of the raft that "this is not as good as Bala". I have been rafting at other places myself, natural rivers are capable of giving longer and more varied experience than we got between the concrete walls of this man made facility. However, the intensity of the white water was well worth witnessing. I for one was glad I was in a big raft and not a canoe.
The plan was to go for a picnic in the meadow afterwards. Whilst the ladies got changed and made themselves beautiful, the men debated whether we should dine in the glorious sunshine or seek shade. Eventually the ladies appeared, a quiet corner of the meadow was chosen with only one other person in it - a handsome young Italian gentleman was sun bathing in the smallest possible pair of underpants. (Ed's note - you have got the measure of the 50+ girls Martin).
Wherry Weekend - Ann Dodson
Twelve new crew members were to assemble at Oulton broads for the Wherry trip on Sunday. Jenny W, Lucy, Jenny H and I set off on Friday morning in delicious sunshine. Arriving too early to check in we watched the boats going through the locks at the Wherry Inn and managed to catch sight of the road bridge opening to allow high masts through. Checking in finished Jenny and Lucy picked Jenny and me up from our palatial abode a la Pontins! Sumptuous fish and chips on Southwold pier that evening followed by a stroll around the town. Early night for Jenny and Lucy and a rave up (well nearly) for Jenny and myself in the Pontin Cabaret Bar! Saturday morning dawned very misty. We took off for Dunwich, where we met up with two more crew members Denise and Peter who were joining us for a gentle stroll around the area. Firstly up to the top of the cliff. Fabulous views. Visited the remains of Greyfriars priory and on through the beautiful woods that had honeysuckle growing through the trees. Lovely morning finding quaint rose cottages tucked away and talking to holidaymakers. Arrived back at Dunwich in time to have a look at the museum, before lunch. As the others lingered Jenny and I went off for lunch at the car park cafe. After deliberating for some time (much to choose from!) decided on the fresh crab salad. Sadly for Lucy we had had the last two and very delicious they were too!
Saturday evening we met up with Steve and Carol and Frances and Terry. Now we were ten. I decided that I would not do the evening walk with them and as they set off around the nature reserve I took off for the nearby Spar shop...would I please ask them to put Lucy's neckerchief in their freezer compartment! (don't ask) and would they please put my packed lunch in their fridge with Jenny and Lucy's food! What nice people they were!! The walkers returned and we finished the evening at the Wherry Inn, fabulous food.
Sunday, the big day, arrived very grey and just a little chilly. Greeted on board the Wherry Albion (built in the late 1800's) with hot drinks and with Sheila and Richard there we were now a full crew! Buoyancy aids on. Thanks Denise and Carol for sorting me out with this!! Some sailor!
Introductions from Captain Roger, he and the three other crew (two were trainee's) are all volunteers. Up on deck we found a spot where we could, there is very little room, and the sail was hoisted. We were encouraged to help and Sheila was a game woman doing this! A small motorboat is towed behind to be used to rescue and to help manoeuvre the Wherry when turning or to push the Wherry when the sail is down. The sail had to be lowered a couple of times, when going through small spaces and when we moored. We were taught nautical language like "Jib Ho", which meant duck when the sail was switched. As this has to be done quickly Carol asked could they please just say duck. no go. We got quite used to throwing ourselves backwards! So off we went on our roughly 18 mile trip from Oulton Broad to Cantley. Drinks and biscuits for elevenses! We had lunch on board, followed by the obligatory selection of cake and then moored at Hartley windmill where we had time for a tour and view the countryside from the top while the crew had their lunch.
We really were celebrities, every time we passed pubs or villages people were there waiting to photograph us! Can't imagine why they were so taken with us! We soon perfected our royal waves. They certainly must have heard us coming because there was much talking and laughter all of the way. The crew were excellent company and encouraged us to have a go at steering. Everyone who wanted to had time. It was a lovely route, if a little flat, but that was made up by the viewing of wildlife, an amazing marsh harrier, herons, swallows and noisy reed warblers.
As we turned to dock at Cantley would you believe the sun came out. The crew worked hard to lower the sail and have everything ready for their new adventure on Monday, when they were sailing down to Norwich. We gathered our belongings together and disembarked after a glorious nearly eight hours on the Wherry. Grateful thanks were given and off we went to the train station just in time to catch the 5.13 back to Oulton. As British Rail didn't bother to collect our £5 fare it was an excellent end to a brilliant day. For myself I felt it was an absolute privilege to be able to sail on the Albion.
Many, many thanks to Jenny Walker for organising the week-end and to Lucy who was her first mate!
Canal Boat Day - Maggie Marshall
Another sunny Sunday, no rain, another 50 plus sumptuous picnic. A perfect day out as we meandered slowly along the Grand Union canal from Linslade. A hidden oasis of peace and calm where we saw tiny moorhen chicks, huge swans watchfully guarding their cygnets and ducklings of all ages -aah.
The annual canal boat outing was uneventful this time, no one fell in, we didn't run aground, we safely negotiated more than 10
locks. We munched our way through a delicious picnic with treats such as Lucy's spicy potato salad, Ann's boozy fruit salad and Jenny's feather light sponges, cheese and biscuits at teatime followed by more cake.
At the obligatory pub stop we had surprise visitors as Paul and Marilyn joined us and stayed for the picnic lunch, they had to drop out at the last minute due to a small overbooking problem, so it was lovely to see them.It was a long day as most of us started out very early and we didn't get back to the boatyard until after 7 pm, but we all had a good time and felt very relaxed. Definitely a slower pace of life. Thanks go to Paul and Jane for organising an excellent day out. PS On our return, the boatyard owner said that we had travelled further than anyone else on one of their day boats - we like to get our money's worth!
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