October Write Ups
Five of us arrived at the Woodford Shooting Club for some air rifle and pistol shooting in the newly revamped areas. The weather was good, the staff were helpful and friendly and the coffee and biccies were good too.
After a safety and weapon-operating brief, we split into two teams and started shooting, one team with rifles and the other with pistols.
The weapons were similar to those I used two years ago; the Ruger Redhawk was still there, but there were also three new weapons - two looked like Glock automatics and we were allowed to use a .22 target pistol which was impressive. All of these weapons were gas powered from a cylinder. One Glock and the .22 had the laser red dot sighting system which made it difficult to miss. Eventually, some impressive shooting was done.
The rifles included the two very accurate gas-powered target rifles I remembered from our last visit and an underlever weapon which, though awkward, was very accurate. The telescopic sights helped of course. The target rifles are very sophisticated; pressure on the very light trigger does not actually fire the weapon - rather it actuates a switch which does the firing, so first and second pressures are not so important. Shooting at 35 yards we were soon scoring well.
I think we all enjoyed ourselves. I had a very pleasant day but I'll watch out for the ladies, who were a bit good!!
(ed's note: this is a recurring theme in this month's newsletter!).
Many thanks to Paul for organising the event, which went off very well. I hope that we do it again next year.
Sitting here using my laptop, it brings home to me how much I take technology for granted. The trip to Bletchley Park was an eye opener in many ways.
We started the cold and windy day with a debrief in hut 8, reading with interest the exhibits around the room about the connections with Ian Fleming's James Bond novels. From there we retreated to hut 4, the cafe, for hot drinks. We had been told that the first official tour would be busy, so decided to familiarise ourselves with the surroundings. Inside the house was fascinating - the estate was bought in 1883 by Sir Herbert Samuel Leon and he expanded the existing farmhouse into the present mansion. The architectural style is a mixture of Victorian Gothic, Tudor and Dutch Baroque and was the subject of much bemused comment from those who worked there. Standing at the front of the house and looking up we could see what a mish-mash of styles it is. It is rumoured that in 1938 Admiral Sir Hugh Sinclair (Director of Naval Intelligence and head of MI6) bought the site with his own money because Naval Intelligence thought at £8,000 it was a bit overpriced!!! To cover their real purpose, the first government visitors to Bletchley Park described themselves as "Captain Ridley's shooting party". I found a portrait of Hugh Foss, and it would have been nice to report that I'd found a relative - but no, he was born in Japan. In September 1934 Foss and Oliver Strachey broke the Japanese naval attache cipher.
We made a quick trip to the estate's post office to purchase and post a postcard to our grandchildren; they keep an album of all the places Nanny and Granddad have visited. Then it was on to the guided tour which started with a brief talk and then a very interesting walk around the park. The tour guide explained that 3 Polish mathematicians were instrumental in helping with breaking the Enigma codes, they had broken the codes 6 (yes, six) years before but had done nothing with them because they were not involved in the war at that time, definitely something to tell my Polish tutor. It was now very windy and cold, so after the tour we went (again) to hut 4 for lunch and more hot drinks.
Refreshed and warm our next stop was the Toys and Memorabilia display, and I think that between the two of us we have owned and played with most of the exhibits.
The highlight of my day was most certainly the rebuilt Colossus. Mark I Colossus was upgraded to a Mark II in June 1944, and was working in time to be sure that Hitler had swallowed the deception campaigns prior to D-Day. There were eventually 10 working Colossus machines at Bletchley Park. In Block B, one of the original wartime buildings, we saw an array of Enigma machines - as a typist I noticed that on the majority of the keyboards the Y was on the bottom row and the Z on the top. The museum depicts the incredibly complex processes of interception, decryption, translation, interpretation and analysis that were needed to produce the vital intelligence that proved so important in ending the war.
We got to the model railway just as it was closing so that is top of our list for the next visit, along with the Churchill memorabilia and lake. So we finished off our day in the mock cinema watching "100 years of film" and I think I've seen most of films reviewed! The rain stayed off until we were warm in the car on the way home. We will use our year long pass to go back in warmer weather. It was a fascinating day and back at home we turned on our (smaller than Colossus) computer to research Alan Turing and other items we wanted to know more about.
Have you ever been invited into the cockpit of your holiday jet and invited to take control?
Well I very much doubt it, but if you would like to try then head on over to Cockpitsonic in Burton Latimer. There they have a completely accurate simulator of a Boeing 737 waiting to be "flown" from (in our case) Hong Kong International Airport. Sitting in the co-pilot seat next to our pilot instructor Chris, we taxi to the end of the runway before accelerating down the runway and taking to the sky to fly over Hong Kong harbour. The view from the cockpit is very realistic and all the islands show up as we head out to sea before turning to land at a nearby airport that I can't pronounce let alone spell! Not all the landings were textbook and it seems that the ladies did rather better than the lads here. Perhaps because they actually listened to the pilots instructions or maybe they have a lighter touch on the joystick, who knows?
Also available, was an Me 109 fighter with which to engage a squadron of Hurricanes or shoot-up armoured columns on the ground, and a prototype helicopter which seemed to spend much of its time trimming the tops of the trees next to the heliport!
Our instructors Chris and Chris2 were very friendly and enthusiastic so I'm sure we will be going back soon, it's great fun!
Congratulations to our two award winners, Sheila in the morning for her deadly skill in the Messerschmitt, and in the afternoon, Janet, for a perfect touch-down in the Boeing. Thanks to Ann also for organising another great event.
31 of us met up at the Black Horse in Greetham, Rutland on Sunday 23rd and made a prompt start on the autumn walk of 6.5 miles
Despite warnings to bring waterproofs, after a rainy event last year, the weather was good for walking, dry, a bit overcast with a moderate breeze. We headed off in the direction of the Exton Estate. Plenty of people to chat to along the way. At one point we could see across to the Ketton Cement works in the distance.
We saw and heard a flock of Canada geese fly overhead just before we stopped for a break at what must have been the highlight of the walk. Across a large lake was Fort Henry, an 18th century mock-gothic fishing folly complete with swans in the foreground.
Ann gathered us all together for the group photo. Luckily walkers from Ramsey were passing by and one of their members took the photo so that Ann could be included. One of the ramblers expressed an interest in the club.
From here we skirted the golf club and back into Greetham and the pub to round off the morning with a carvery lunch - a chance to make more new acquaintances. Altogether, a really friendly atmosphere and enjoyable day.
"Is there anybody there" were the thoughts of 38 50+ers as they waited outside the Museum for the Ghost Walk to begin. The group went strangely silent as a hooded robed Benedictine monk silently joined us for an evening of stories and tales.
It was a dark, warm night with a new moon just lightening up the sky when we began The Ghost trail which took us on a circuitous route through the darkened alleyways and streets. We were a little apprehensive after a tale of a jilted young man who hung himself, the little girl murdered by her father whose ghost still looks out of the darkened window over the square. Numerous stories abounded from costume figures to as late as the end of WWII and the Americans that can still be heard shuffling around to the haunting music of Glen Miller.
Finally, as we stood in the precincts of the floodlit cathedral and then into the shadows of the graveyard - which, we were told is now several feet higher that when it was built because of the number of bodies now buried there we had heard enough but....one more story in the shadows of one of the oldest buildings dating back to the 1400's now owned by ASK we were just being regaled about a ghost who would go through doors, when at that precise moment the outside door opened and a kitchen porter unconcernedly walked out carrying the trash out. We all fell about laughing as that brought us back to normality.
Well done Jenny for your sterling in-put for an entertaining evening had by all.
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