Barbeque & Games Evening - Carol Wilkinson
With nervous anticipation I set off in search of The Village Hall at Stanion for my first encounter with the 50+ adventure group at the annual BBQ and games evening. It was a balmy summer evening as I approached about 50 people sitting in deckchairs. The BBQ's were well alight - I expected Trumpton to pull up at any time and Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb come running with their hoses, but all was well.
I was particularly impressed with the man (Arthur) who was cooking a BBQ stir fry, the man (Dennis) who had brought a gas BBQ and the lady (Judith) who brought marshmallows to toast - they had clearly done this before. How do you make a sausage roll seemed the apt joke of the evening as sausages leapt off the BBQ and onto the grass - the 5 second rule was applied and the sausages duly returned to the griddle.
Soon the wind was whipping up and a chill descended, sending most people scuttling to their cars for warmer clothing.
Soon banter started, laughter was heard rising into the grey clouds and I discovered what a fun group of people they are.
Carol broke out the rounders set and two teams were carefully chosen - 13 players per team with several offering support from the stands (or bar). I opted to be backstop during the first innings and clearly made an impression - in the playing field mud - as I flew through the air with the grace of a wildebeest and landed face down, missing the ball completely. A few things weren't very clear - the rules for starters, the final score or why only one of us used the gold bat...but what was clear was that this group of 50 plussers know how to have a good laugh. Everyone joined in, in one way or another, and a fabulous evening was had by all.A few started to drift off to travel home but others gave the badminton racquets a workout and some started practicing petanque in time for next week. I'm going to petanque too - hopefully I can't injure myself too much at that - but at least I now know you have a first-aider :-)
Microlighting - Doug King
The clouds were really high and we went up high so we could see more. The microlight had a 0-60 time quicker than some big motorbikes and Simon, the pilot, showed how they fly themselves as he went 'hands off'.
The flying suits were dead glamorous - especially the pink one and Heather's was too big by far.On Saturday the cross-winds were about the limit for going on the runway, but the pilot tried very hard with taking off at different parts to get everyone up, then had to stop when he nearly tipped over with Carol in it when landing. At about 60 mph up there you didn't feel the speed or feel air-sick like in a light aircraft.
Due to increasing winds, my flight was postponed to the following morning. I had to go 'Off-piste' to avoid the boxing hares on the runway whilst taxiing. Simon said it was the best flying day this year - we saw 7 counties and the sea and he showed me how fast those things could go when I asked him.
I made Sue go up and she hasn't stopped talking about how good it was. Will recommend it to everyone I know.A thoroughly enjoyable experience, thanks to Dennis for the organisation.
Petanque - Barry Fitzhugh
On a lovely summer evening about 24 members arrived at the White Hart in Lyddington for the annual 50+ petanque evening. After the initial visit to the bar we went over to the petanque pistes. We formed teams of six and after a quick resume of the rules, prepared for the start. Each piste has two teams of three. A 50+ favourite is ladies versus gents, which in our case would have been rather unfair, as our group consisted of 5 ladies and me! Pat, Sheila and I played Mags, Barbs and 'jet-lagged Mary'. Mags' team soon took a five nil lead which we eventually overtook, winning the first game. The game had two funny incidents - 'jet-lagged Mary' started to score really well after a coffee-fix and Mags came out with a statement to start the next game which we can't really put into print! Mags' team won the next game and we all went in for dinner, which was excellent.Another good evening for the club. Thanks to Janette for organising the event.
Tree Ninjas - Sheila Casey
Nine adventurous members met at Tree Ninjas in the depths of beautiful Salcey Forest and were kitted out the usual harnesses for climbing. Helmets were optional for over 18s, but we are all safety-conscious, so we wore them. The karabiners were unusual, because one will not open until the other has been locked, so we had to be instructed in the working of these as well as other aspects of the course.
We then set off at our own speeds on the 5 circuits, with heights increasing from 2 to 10 metres. Some whizzed around and completed the course before I had done 2 circuits and I salute their amazing achievement, but my tale is of the less confident, slower members, to show that anyone can have an amazing experience. We plodded around securing our safety lines, testing each footstep and wobbling like mad on the ropes, but we carried on.
I found the course more difficult than last year. Because there were less of us, I had less of a breather and some of the wooden steps seemed a bit slippery. tried to speed up on a series of wooden log trapezes, lost my footing on a log and was left dangling. Hence my first rescue. I had to haul my bottom backwards over 4 swinging logs before reaching the platform. I was then determined to proceed at my own speed, however slowly.
Some of you will remember the suspended wooden trolley from last year, where you had to haul yourself across the void. The moment my foot hit the trolley, it shot off into the middle leaving me suspended close to the platform. Rescue number 2!
I made determined progress pretty well after that and was even going faster than some young men behind me. I felt good, but pride comes before a fall. I approached the hanging 'balloons': just a couple of stages before I passed last year's limit. I had found the balloons so difficult last year and wobbled so much it sapped my energy, but this year I was so much more secure until.....On the second to last step, the rope was sloping upwards at a steep angle and the red balloon had such a short rope! I stretched up for the balloon rope and my foot slipped off the tiny, sloping wooden step and I was again suspended! There was no way that I was going to haul myself to a standing position. My feet were already as high as my head and the tiny wooden step was so tiny and slippery, with only parallel ropes in between. Rescue number 3 arrived, but I could not budge, so the 'rescue bag' arrived. A rope was thrown up and a small hoist was attached to the overhead line. A few years ago, I would have been paralytic with fear a metre from the ground, but now I could sit comfortably at 8 metres on a double rope with a few wooden steps, admiring the view and my rescue with interest. (One of our members made a remark about the fearless young men who must rescue me. A young client who was very nervous hoped it wasn't him, but was told succinctly, "You're not fearless. You are a wimp!") I was attached to the hoist and was lowered slowly and carefully to the ground. A good practice of safety measures for the staff and an adventurous end of the course for me.
Not the finale, though. Several of us went on to the 18 metre high Shock Drop. This was a sort of swing for 2 or 3 people. We sat on canvas seats on a suspended log, we were well strapped in with our climbing harnesses, hoisted 18 metres into the air and after a public countdown from 5, we were simply dropped! The view was spectacular and that first drop was quite breath-taking, then we simply swung, feeling the fresh breeze, for a few minutes.
It was a wonderful morning and a novel experience all round. The safety measures worked perfectly!
Canal BoatT Day - Carol Wilkinson
We arrived at the boatyard in Sileby bright and early in eager anticipation of a lovely day on the canal cruising north towards Loughborough. The boats were named Jumble, Rumble and Fumble which raised a titter or two amongst the more childish among us! We headed to our designated boat and loaded the picnic and after some brief instruction we set off. As we chugged away from the marina it was all hands on deck as the rain started to fall, the awning was quickly unfurled to provide protection from the great British summer. I was aboard Fumble, with Barry as our captain we sped into third place on the convoy.
Introductions were made and new friends acquired. The kettle was on and the first batch of cakes appeared. Not far out of port we spotted a rare British phenomenon - blue sky and sunshine, so the awning was swiftly put away. On arrival at the first lock, Rumble and Jumble had it all in hand, the gates were opened, the three boats nestled into the lock together and up we floated to the next stretch of canal. We passed some beautiful Leicestershire countryside and passed under some lovely bridges that I am sure could tell a tale or two. A few boats passed going in the other direction with a cheery wave and smile from fellow matelots.
At one stage we passed several houses with wonderful gardens that made a few of us quite jealous. Their garden sheds probably cost more than our houses!
As lunchtime approached we were pleased to moor beside the pub and take on liquid refreshments. The picnic baskets were emptied and a veritable feast laid out before us. We have some excellent cooks and the food was as delicious as it was filling. You could tell there were the more experienced travellers among us who thought to bring all sorts of added extras which made life much easier such as a gas igniter rather than matches.
Once fed and watered we started our return trip. A few brave souls took over the controls and had a go at steering us safely homeward when suddenly a tree leapt out in front of us and nearly detached the roof! Fumble however was a strong contender and ended up leaving the tree battle scarred and having to think twice before challenging a 50+ adventure crew again! We also got some extreme close-ups of either bank and ended up unexpectedly gathering some foliage of various types.
With the marina in sight, Fumble put in a spurt of pace and it was like the closing stages of the Grand National as we closed in on Rumble then with a cheer of joy pulled into second place. Jumble was too far ahead to be caught so crossed the line in first place. However I think we were all winners that day. A superb day was had by all and I would like to thank Paul for organising it and Fumbles crew for making it such fun. Definitely a trip to watch out for next year.
Grafham Activity Day (Part 1) - Patricia Turner
The 25th July was a good day weather wise, even though it was windy, for our activities at Grafham Water as it was sandwiched between two very wet days. Eleven of us met up and prepared for our first adventure with our instructors for the day - Debbie and Simon. Arriving at the climbing challenges we looked up and felt daunted. Simon explained all the intricacies of how to put on our safety equipment and then demonstrated how to secure the ropes to the gear and then climb the 'All Aboard'. This amounted to a vertical 30 foot pole with bits of wood on the sides for climbing up and a flat platform about 2 foot square on the top, which you were supposed to stand up on. However, it was not compulsory and those of us who participated did as much, or as little as we each wanted. Once up there the next task was to get down and this was where the safety gear came in useful as we just leaned back and let the ropes take the strain. Good fun actually!! However much we did we each felt pleased with our achievements.
Following that was the wobbly bridge challenge which had big gaps between each of the planks of wood making the bridge. We were supposed to jump from one to the next, preferably at a run in order to keep up a momentum so that we'd make it to the other side without stopping. After Debbie's demonstration those of us who wanted to take up the challenge did so with varying degrees of success - some got all the way across and some part way before losing their balance and descending gracefully with the ropes again doing the work. The guys tended to go on to the higher challenges and were very impressive, but actually it was the fact that we had a go at overcoming various demons which was just as impressive. Well done to all for taking part and I think we all surprised ourselves.
Thank you to our two instructors for making it fun as well as challenging.
Grafham Activity Day (Part 2) - Valerie Flude
With new energy from eating our packed lunches, the next adventure was canoeing. As it had been so windy during the morning, our instructors decided that if the canoes were roped together they would be more stable. After collecting our life jackets and oars we set off. We rowed out to a pontoon which was very hard work rowing against the wind. When we had tied the canoes up to the pontoon, our next challenge was to stand up in the canoes and then change seats with each other. One of our instructors then proceeded to show us how to do a handstand in a canoe. We paddled back to shore and the canoes were untied from each other and we were allowed to paddle in single canoes near the shore.
Some of our group took up the last challenge which was to enter the water by sliding down a canoe which had been upturned over the end of the jetty. This involved landing in the water and getting soaking wet.
Everyone had a great day and thanks to Sheila for organising it.