Firework Championships - Heather Hewitt
I had been to this event before in previous years and knew that a great entertaining night was in store. I was not disappointed. Three of the UK's finest firework companies, Blitz Fireworks from Crewe, Phenomenal Fireworks (Standish) and Spitfire Pyrotechnics (Coventry), competed against each other and all three gave us a ten minute display timed to their choice of music.
While waiting for darkness to descend we began the evening by sitting in a circle enjoying the convivial company of our fellow 50 plussers, food and beverages.
Later during the competition I was mesmerised by the interpretations of the music to the fireworks by each team. There was a final performance by MLE Pyrotechnics of Daventry, the organisers of the event, who fired a closing display which was not subject to the rules and limitations of the competitors, which was really amazing.
We all had to vote for our favourite display by using our mobiles and team number 1, Blitz Fireworks was the overall winner. (I voted for them so I whooped at the result).
Water Sports at Wyboston Lakes - Carole Houghton
Saturday 329It was a beautiful sunny August afternoon and 15 50 plussers met at Wyboston Lakes for a Wet and Wild experience. A lady called Mizzy gathered us together to explain what we had let ourselves in for, Water Skiing, Jet Bikes, Jet Ski and a ride on the Banana Boat YIPPEE!!! We were told to get our wet suits, the chap measured us up with a quick look and we were given our suits and proceeded to the changing rooms to put them on. He had a good eye for size but it was an event in itself to get them on PHEW it was the work out of all work outs. Wet suits adorned not flattering but off we marched to our respective activity. Our group was on the Jet Bike which we told cost £10,000 to buy a new one......best be careful then!!! We had our instruction of throttle, brake, kill cord how to get on and go and enjoy and Oh boy we did. We were supposed to keep it within the buoys but one of our group (won't mention HIS name) wasn’t sure what that meant but as we became more confident we were racing around...fantastic fun.
Then onto Water Skiing this was a bit daunting but 3 of our group mastered it quite quickly for newbies. Mizzy the instructor was very good and patient. We put on our skis and held onto a pole which came off the side of the boat, as the boat got faster your body is pulled out of the water and you have to roll yourself up on the balls or your feet... by now I'm not sure where my feet are and I really didn't know if they had any balls left!!!! Needless to say I wasn't one of the 3 that managed to master this activity but with a bit more practice who knows (actually LOTS more).
On to the Jet Ski this looked a bit scary as there was nowhere to sit it seems you just hang on and pull the throttle. The instructor showed us how to put our forearms onto the ski then you are meant to pull up onto your knees then stand (YEAH RIGHT). Pauline was first lying on the ski, forearms where they should be, throttle on and off......went the Jet Ski but no Pauline! Another go and Pauline was off on the lake but like us all we just laid on the ski, Jude did attempt to kneel but lost it, the kill switch kicking in, at least we knew that it worked. The instructor was impressed with Steve as he started off OK but then laid on his back being dragged across the lake by the ski with one arm and waving with the other. We were unsure if he was just waving or in trouble so we just waved back. That manoeuvre had never been attempted before and hopefully not to be repeated again or so the instructor said.
Off to the Banana Boat - we were quite excited about this. On we got and were told IF we should fall off we were to let go and then all get together 2 on one side and 3 on the other to balance it out while getting back on but we wouldn't come off would we?? Pulled by the power boat around the lake we went over our own wake it was great fun and really bouncy then as quick as a flash we were off and in the lake. As instructed 2 on one side 3 on the other it was hard work getting back on but we made it.
Into the shore they took us and the instructor said jump in and swim to the decking as our jaunt was over. We all shook our heads and said no way we staying on...silly move he just swished the Banana and we were off and swimming to the shore.
Back to the changing rooms to change that's if you can get those *** wet suits off!! Mission accomplished!!
Off to Judith's for pizza and refreshments which were much appreciated.
Thank you Judith for your hospitality and also for a great fun day. Let's do it again!
Segway Racing - Valerie Jolly & Sheila Tilbrook
Here we go then, two new members of the 50+ adventure club on their way to their first event. It's a beautifully sunny Sunday morning and we're off to the Willows Nursery for Segway racing! We arrive in good time and are greeted by Anne - follow the path down to the cabin, she says, where you'll find tea, coffee and a compost toilet (ah ha .... the adventure begins!)
The group assemble and stunningly attractive safety helmets are issued. We split into two groups of 8 and it's agreed that those with little or no previous Segway experience will go first - that's us two then. Training was quick (very!!) - hold the handlebars, step up, lean forward to go forward, lean back to go backwards (not really recommended, but in an emergency it might come in useful), push the handlebars sideways to spin round on the spot. We trundle off one after the other following our instructor, learning the basics as we go. Then the 'training mode' on the machine is switched off and it's time to be off and away on our own across the field, round the hedges, over the little bridge, into the flower bed (oops ... was that just me!), round the garden, under the arch, through the woods - brilliant, exhilarating, fantastic! The award for the most spectacular dismount went to Doug - luckily no serious injuries, but we all learnt the lesson that it's best to get off backwards, rather than forwards over the handlebars!
After half an hour we reluctantly return to base to let the other group have a turn. We partake of tea and coffee while we eagerly await another go, and chat about how we all want a Segway to take home (unfortunately we later find they cost £6000 each).
All too soon our two hours is over and there is much discussion about how fast some of us went. It's only then that we realise they have a speedometer! Oh dear, we'll have to go again (soon please!!!)
Message from Doug: You have my permission to add me in the newsletter as the only person who could fall off a nearly stationary Segway whilst people like Jane were doing slalom and seeing who could break the 19mph limit.
Maiz Maze - Pauline Ashby
Eleven members and their grandchildren plus my great grand-daughter (yes I know I don't look old enough to have one) met at Wistow Maze for a day of getting lost in the corn. The weather stayed fine for us and we had a lovely few hours finding the clues for the competition and re-tracing our steps several times over. After two hours our group came out for a picnic lunch and fun and games on the other activities. We then had a look round the garden centre and model village before heading home. Everyone enjoyed the day and some of us are going back again with other grandchildren. A resounding success.
Ed's note: More potential club members in 40 years Pauline?
Snowdonia Activity Weekend - Walk Maggie Marshall
Snowdonia on a sunny day with stunning views, could you ask for more.
Only 4 of us went on the walk up and round Bala Ann, Mick, Frank and I walked out of the town across the foot of Lake Tegid (Bala) to the foothills where we enjoyed a steady climb through the woods overlooking the lake to a height of over 600ft. Small wild raspberries provided a tasty nibble as we walked. Below us little sailing boats dotted the lake and we tried to spot Snowdon herself but she was modestly hidden behind clouds, Cader Idris was clear to see. We completed the circuit back down through woods then across the lake back to the White Lion to enjoy a refreshing drink. 5 miles in total, a lovely walk, and thank you to Ann for stepping in to cover for Jenny who wasn't able to join us (hope you are soon fighting fit Jenny).
Canyoning / Gorge Walking 1 Alison Andrews
An afternoon of Gorge walking, also known as Canyoning, is the perfect way to get thrills, exercise and a very wet and cold, well everything.
The 50+ team joined other adventurers to explore a picturesque gorge near the village of Maentwrog. Clothed in wet suits, harnesses, helmets and buoyancy aids we were intrigued by what we were about to encounter. As soon as we walked to the entry point of the gorge we scrambled over a few rocks before standing at the edge of a plunge pool. We then had a choice of how to go in, jump, fall backwards or carefully slide in, there then followed a number of loud splashes and screams as each tried their own entry system. No points were won for style.
Once immersed in the water we were all shocked as the cold water found its way into the wet suits and around our bodies but everyone looked like they were enjoying the experience.
We then started to move down stream, scrambling over rocks, bum-sliding down large areas of wet rocks trying not to slip too fast. In different areas we jumped into plunge pools, climbed over submerged logs and used ropes to traverse large areas of slippery rock.
As we reached the end the pace slowed and it was not until we rounded the final bend that we realised why. Each of us had to abseil down the side of a waterfall before being dumped unceremoniously into a large pool and having to swim out and then watch the others go through the same fate.
Although it was hard to keep warm the enjoyment factor easily compensated for the small discomfort. I would recommend this activity to all and would definitely do it again.
Canyoning / Gorge Walking 2 - Lyn Bennison
Well I have to say that canyoning made my now distant memory of gorge walking in Longtown seem like a walk in the park! Full of exhilarating stumbles and tumbles through rocky river waters I faced my all time fear - jumping from a high cliff into the watery abyss of the pond below. Three attempts with much encouragement from the group and a funny yet very competent instructor, I did it! I felt so pleased with myself, nothing could stop me now. I strapped myself to the safety rope, didn't listen to the safety instruction and wheeeeeee....skimming down a waterfall on my butt at fast pace was 'such fun'. Okay, I learned later that I had been told to hold on to the rope to slow my descent. Ha!
Zip Wire (The longest in Europe and fastest in the World) - Lyn Bennison
Eleven brave members of our club, and one most welcome interloper to make up our number to twelve, set off to the kit hut to don overalls, hat, goggles and the all important harness. We were strapped into our safety gear by enthusiastic and competent young instructors who put us all very much at ease. Arthur found this particularly pleasing! After a very short briefing we set off to the training zip wire to get a taste for the big thrill to come.
The 'training zip wire' is still the 5th longest in Europe, and quite a thrill in its own right. In fact it was scarier than the big wire because you had no experience, no insight of what was to come. Even though you knew the experience would be safe, with such competent instructors to check every harness and buckle, knowing that the gearing was thoroughly and regularly checked, you still got a massive adrenalin rush from the fear of the unknown. As I set off it looked as if the gravel ground below me was inches away from my nose and that I would crash into the trees below as I sped over them at speed. For a control freak it was a most terrifying experience because you had absolutely no control whatever over your destiny, but it was so exhilarating too zipping so fast over the terrain. Coming into land was so safe too, being held onto by a friendly instructor and lowered to ground.
Next was the 'big one'. We piled into a truck which took forever it seemed to climb to the top of the quarry. A really nice driver put us at ease and we listened to a recorded history of the quarry which was most interesting. When we piled out of the truck we had a real sense of the height we had travelled to and the majestic beauty of the quarry landscape. With adrenalin pumping, full of the memory of the short wire experience I tried to stay calm as I was strapped into the harness, praying to God that we would all meet up again at the other end of the wire. Then with a jiggle and a clunk, I was off.... Sooooo fast at the start and again so seemingly close to the tree tops I wooshed down the quarry right to the edge of a cliff and then.... I was flying. Although I was travelling now at the fastest rate, I was travelling over the water in the quarry below. It seemed to take forever and yet it was a moment. Such a beautiful sense of space, natural beauty and serenity. Time stood still for that moment and then like a bolt I was nearing the end. As instructed, I held out my arms and felt like a plane coming into land. And then a brake was applied, I held onto the pole being held out by the instructor and then I was down. Standing up was a bit of a shaky challenge but I was on terra firma and absolutely overwhelmed by the amazing, awesome, experience.
A huge thank you to Lyn for organising this experience of a lifetime. Nothing could top it.
Summer Walk - Tim Parrott
This was a 7 mile circular walk across fields and through woods starting and finishing in the historic coaching village of Stilton. The weather was hot and sunny and we set off across fields of cows to the village of Folksworth, where we stopped in a churchyard for mid-morning snacks. While I was waiting, I tried to out-stare a cow. But those things have it down to a fine art.
We then walked on to Washingley, only to find that it wasn't there. Apart from a notice and some mounds in a field, that is. Washingley was or is an abandoned medieval village that was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as being worth £2.5 to its lord - Eustace the sheriff. We stopped here for our picnic lunch.
On the way back to Stilton we passed Church House - a converted church with interesting ornaments in the garden, including a large metal skeleton. Further on we came to Denton church - a grade 2 listed building, now in ruins, but still used for services on special occasions such as Easter. Parts of it date to the 12th century, and a Denton church was mentioned in the Domesday Book.
With perfect timing, we arrived back in Stilton just as the rain started. Many thanks to Judith for organising this walk and not getting us lost too often.
Whitewater Tubing - Valerie JollyI'd never come across 'tubing' before so I searched online - 'Try your hand at staying afloat in our inflatable rings as you negotiate your way through eddies, whirlpools and boils whilst being washed down the whitewater course'. Without further ado, my cheque was in the post! We met at the Whitewater Centre in Northampton on a sunny Saturday morning and Sheila duly checked us in. Health and Safety checks were made by our instructor - "Is anyone pregnant or under the influence of alcohol? Has anyone heard of Leptospirosis?" (I hadn't, but I have now - it's true, you do learn something new every day!) After being kitted out with wetsuits, lifejackets and crash helmets, we were then introduced to our inflatable rings - "Just sit in it, lay back and relax" we were told. We picked up our rings and headed for the water. First our instructor had us all sitting on the edge of the course with our feet dangling in the water just to get used to the temperature (cold!) He then took us one by one, lowered us into the water (freezing!) by the shoulder straps on our lifejackets and launched us so that we could drift gently down a smoothly flowing part of the course. Then it was time for the inflatable rings. Apparently there is no elegant way of getting into these - just stand on the edge with your back to the water, bend over, hold the ring up to your bum and fall backwards with an almighty splash....and you're off. "Go with the flow" took on a whole new meaning. After we'd had a great deal of fun manoeuvring ourselves down this part of the course, either on our own or attempting to form a chain, and sometimes with the aid of a helpful prod from the pointy end of a paddle to get us out of a difficult spot, we moved across to the more serious rapids. Having been "invited" to leap into the base of the waterfall (bomb, Superman, star jumps were suggested), we then tackled it in our rings. A few of us were successful in staying in our rings - I went over the waterfall backwards and, strangely enough, this seemed to work (the first time anyway!) Others were not so lucky! All too soon our session came to an end and we were back in our rings for one last gentle meander down to the base pool before "rolling out" and heading back to the changing rooms. Many thanks to Sheila for organising this fabulous event - now I know what tubing is, I'll definitely be coming back for more!
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