September Write Ups
GO APE - Mary Howarth
I was a bit afraid of taking on this challenge because I don't have much upper body strength and am definitely afraid of jumping off high places (you will never find me on a bungee jump!!)
We duly gathered for our briefing session - all five of us, Lyn, Tony, Elaine, Barry and me. This session consisted of safety instructions and we had to carry out certain procedures so that the guide was sure we had understood.
Then it was off into the trees, excitement mounting and adrenaline pumping. However, we started off gently in the nursery section before moving on to higher and more difficult sections.
We used rope ladders to ascend to the start of each section then negotiated various links between the trees. There were wobbly strips of wood attached by two lines between the trees, ropes where you had to sit in your harness and pull yourself across, series of swings, nets and rings hanging on ropes to step across (I took the other option on this one, but Lyn, Tony and Elaine did it).
I found the most frightening thing was the two rope swings into cargo nets. I did the first one, but the second one was seriously scary as there was a short drop before the swing took your weight. I am sorry to say I chickened out on this, but in my defence I must say that the alternative route was quite tough consisting of three traverses between the trees to get back to the others. Everybody else did this swing.
Every section ended with a zip line from the top of the trees to the ground, each one higher than the last. I really enjoyed that by the end after my initial fears.
It was a good day, weather exactly right, not too warm and definitely not wet. The company was good, although having only five people take up this activity was a little disappointing; it worked out well because we moved round without any delays.
I can highly recommend Go Ape and would definitely do it again.
PAINTBALLING - Mick Cook
Six of us arrived at Delta Force, which was at Hinton airfield, for a "fun day" of paint balling or so we thought. At the briefing we could buy paint grenades, smoke grenades and thunder flashes - what had we let ourselves in for? After putting on the body armour, overalls and facemask we were ready to let battle commence. Four teams of red blue green and brown were to fight six games we were in brown team. We joined ten others and were to do battle against green. The first game was to find the general which we did not win. After this we had to defend a castle and stop the other team taking our flag; this game ended in a draw, a welcome break was called for and time to reload our guns. The next game was called Last Man Standing this was mayhem but we won both times. Next came A Bridge Too Far where we had to take the flag over the bridge. During this game the heavens opened but it did not dampen our spirits - long live Dads Army - we won!
Lunch was a welcome break where we could talk about the games and replenish our stock of paint balls. After lunch we had two more games. A good name for a game was The Grave Yard which it proved for the green team. Last game was to take bunkers; this is where the paint grenades, thunder flashes and smoke grenades were most used; brown team won this game also ( Rambo eat your heart out) .Thanks Lyn for a great day .
LAKE DISTRICT WEEKEND - Various contributors
To rain or not to rain? After last year's wet and windy weekend in the Lakes, everyone had their fingers and toes crossed in the hope that the gods would smile down on us on this trip - surely we hadn't been too wicked this year? Torrential rain on the M6 threatened to wash us all back into Northamptonshire and we were relieved to arrive in the dry and even some views of the fells for the later arrivals.
We received our usual warm welcome at Glaramara (well, we do spend a lot of money with them so we were entitled to the smiles and backslapping!) and were delighted to see that the long awaited accommodation extension was well underway. By the time that we return in June 2013 there should be 10 EN-SUITE rooms available!
The menu was, as usual, superb and included guinea fowl, mussels, sticky toffee pudding (our special request), blackberry and apple cobbler, lemon posset, etc. etc. ............(Don't ask Jane or Janette how much weight they gained in three days).
Saturday evening's entertainment was provided by Sheila Casey - our very own Raunds Nightingale, thoroughly disrupting the Harrogate Ramblers’' attempt to have a peaceful, cultural quiz in the corner. WHOOPS! (it was noted however that one or two of them joined in the singing and arm waving).
As it turned out, we need not have worried about the weather as, apart from the high level fell walkers - who disappeared very quickly into the clouds - everyone had a dry and SUNNY weekend -hooray! Unfortunately two members took an unexpected trip but were in good spirits when they left for home.
The Friday evening ice-breaker pictures below tell their own story! If you can't work out what we were doing, why not come along next year and find out!
Orienteering - Richard Stanley
On a very fine Saturday afternoon, 8 of us were chauffeured by David from Glaramara to Whinlatter Forest (via the scenic route due to badgers living under a bridge!) and split into two Teams: A) Mick, John, Heather and Brian and B) Annette, Phil, Richard and Janette. We were given walkie-talkies in case we got lost.
He then led us to the first point and showed us what we should be looking for (letters on a post)! There were several to find - some harder than others - through the wonderful setting of the forest. Annette and Richard were confident in their map reading and convinced that "we are on the tarmac road" only to agree later that this was in fact a "forest track", Phil's enthusiasm wore us out but thanks from both teams to the giggling schoolgirls from Liverpool for their "help and bartering".
We all arrived back at the cafe for the best cup of tea (leaves and a strainer). The winners by 4 points were Team B.
11David then told us that he was mistaken for an official (can we park here? Where are the loos?) So had to put his receiver away!
Footnote: Who said - my wife has gone too far again?
Archery- Sheila Smith
On a fine sunny morning 9 adventurers gathered to build Coracles, but Graham, our instructor, had other ideas and asked if we would also like to try our hands at some Archery before we tested our Coracles. Of course the answer was Yes!
Most of us had never even held a bow, but Graham gave us good instructions and explained the difference between left and right-handed bows, the correct standing position, and how to load and shoot arrows. We then had to put an arm protector on! I didn't realise there was so much to learn and that it could be dangerous! We were split into two groups and had a couple of practice rounds. Well at first we could hardly hit the target let alone hit the bull and some arrows flew well past the target but thankfully no passers by were on the receiving end. We kept Graham busy running to retrieve them! I always thought Archery looked easy but it is definitely not and one or two archers received painful arm bruises.
Graham then decided it would be a good idea to have a competition, 3 teams of 3. Of course being the 50+ this brought out the competitive streak in us all, even Arthur (Ivanhoe) gave away a few tips, which resulted in a few more 10's. (Thanks Arthur for your advice). The scores were close - Team B (Janette, Richard S and Sheila S) won with a score of 106, Team A (Sue, Julia and Sheila C) came 2nd with a score of 94 and Team C (Arthur, Rachel and Richard C) came 3rd with a score of 86.
Graham then took us off to the stream/river to sail (or not) our well-made coracles, which is another story! What an enjoyable morning in the sun at Glaramara.
Rock climbing - Sue Smart
After being asked if we would like a vertical climb or a more angled one (guess which we chose) Diane, Maureen & I were taken to our "rock" by Graham. Whilst he fixed the ropes we put on our climbing shoes which really made your toes hurt but really helped grip the rock.
Graham went through the procedure for tying the rope to our harness, gave a few words of advice then we were off.
The intrepid Diane went first while we tried to offer advice as to where the foot holes were and where to go.
It was amazing how little you needed to hang on by and we all completed three climbs and abseiled down again.
It was challenging, and great fun. Mont Blanc here we come!
Abseiling - John West
Low cloud and mist hung over the valley as we climbed into the minibus for the short journey to Borrowdale. From the car park it was just a short hike to the top of the rock face. Our instructor Duane carefully set up the ropes and karabiners and gave us the safety briefing; how to control the downward descent! Mick and Diane descended before the newbie's Leslie, Maureen and Sheila each took their first tentative steps over the edge and found their way down the 60 feet of slippery cliff. Wow! They all rushed back for a second go so all smiles at the end of the morning.
All Day High Level Walk - Ann Cook
It has been a long held ambition of mine to do another high level walk in the Lakes, more than thirty five years has been a long wait! Yet again the 50+ Club has come to the rescue and helped me to notch up another first.
For seven of us our chosen activity for the day was a walk to the top of Great Gable, all 2949feet of it. It was hard, very hard, we had done the whole climb up from Honister Pass in low cloud then sat and had lunch on the summit wondering if it had been worth it. We were on the descent before the spectacular views appeared magically through the swirling mist. The scene that unfolded before us was well worth waiting for, the sun started to shine, the scenery was stunning. It was a long walk back down to Seathwaite and we were all exhausted but what a fantastic day. Many thanks to Simon our guide from Glaramara and to Jane who organised the event.
Via Ferrata - Diane West
D'Artagnan and the Three Musketeers! The 4 of us Heather, Debs, Sheila and Diane could have called ourselves that as we tackled the NEW Via Ferrata! Gone were most of the metal climbing rungs, the zip wire and some of the walks and paths traversed in the past. In their place a few essential metal rungs leading up to the new "Burma Bridge" spanning the gorge - 150 metres long and it swayed! We made it with encouragement from our leader Duane. Sheila bravely tackled the overhang, delicately stepping out whilst hanging over the void. We then all tried the Charlie Chaplin silly walk across a small walkway, some with distinction!! We were offered the 'Infinity Walkway'; a bridge over a huge chasm that seemingly had two wires each side to clip onto while secured to a single wire at the base – think 'tightrope'. We declined that but carried on upwards through the slate mine and out at the top - 1400 feet! Yes we had faced fresh challenges and were not found wanting. We had marvellous weather, superb views from the top and an excellent leader in Duane who explained the mine's workings. We all had a great time together though the overall view was that it was certainly different but not quite so exciting we missed climbing the rungs that gave it its original name.Thank you Janette and Jane for organising it all. (Ed's note - must remember the club flag for the summit next time Ann!).
Sunday Walk - Ann Cook
Sixteen of us decided that Go Ape and Via Ferrata was not for us on our last activity day in the Lakes, so a walk it was. Jane had chosen Cat Bells just south of Keswick as the best option.
We split into two groups, eight of us deciding to climb Cat Bells, the "less energetic" choosing to walk along the base line and the plan was to all meet up in the cafe at Grange around lunch time. All did not go to plan. Having used a bit of kidology on Richard about a cafe on top of Cat Bells we were all surprised to be offered a cup of tea or coffee when we reached the summit (two youths had set themselves up in a tent with a primus and kettle and were selling drinks to raise funds for an expedition they were planning). We ended up having our packed lunch nearby and missed the other group back on low ground - they had decided to walk back to Glaramara ahead of us (well actually the "A" team ended up catching the open top bus back). All worked out well in the end, both groups had a smashing walk, the weather was kind and the scenery was great.
Thanks to Jane leading us on the walk and many more thanks to Jane and Janette for all their hard work in organising the whole weekend. It was brilliant.
CANOEING ON THE NENE - Doug Mitchell (new boy)
I have only been canoeing once before and loved it so I was so pleased to see this activity included in this year's adventures. 14 Olympic paddlers arrived at Oundle Mill for this repeat of last September's route for a "half day" ...err.. "all day" paddle from Oundle to historic Fotheringhay. I must admit that being new to the club I might be a little left out but I was very wrong. Everybody and I mean everybody was so friendly and welcoming that I relaxed immediately; I even got a volunteer co-pilot who was willing to get into a canoe with a stranger. Even better the sun stayed out all day and there was a nice breeze too.
With all our valuables safely stowed in water-tight containers we were all successfully launched without mishap. Needless to say a song tends to pop into your head and will not leave and mine was "messing about on the river". The water was crystal clear and the scenery lovely. We managed to startle a few ducks, the odd swan, and set a whole flock of geese into the air just missing our heads, as well as spotting kites overhead and a very brave cormorant perched on a dead branch sticking out over the river who just watched us pass slowly beneath him or her....couldn't tell.
As we had 4 Locks to negotiate, the two stops we had, one for morning tea and the other for our picnic lunch was welcomed by all and it was amazing that all the climbing in and out of boats at each lock went like a well-oiled machine, each of us helping the other.
Richard III, sadly was not at home in Fotheringhay and was last seen in Leicester and unlike Mary Queen of Scots, no one met an untimely end. The timing was perfect at the journey's end as we all had time for that well-earned pint before our transport back to Oundle arrived. A brilliant day out and a big thank you to Dennis and Jane.
STAMFORD AND BURGHLEY HOUSE - Barry Fitzhugh
21 of us met on a cool morning in Bath Row, near to the River Welland. We were introduced to Jill, our guide for the morning. First stop was the nearby bath house where in the 18th century the bath water was changed as often as once a week - the later in the week you went, the smaller the fee, but the dirtier the water!. Through a narrow passage to nearby St Mary's church, from where we had a good view of the river bridge and the George Hotel, an old coaching inn between London and York. At one time Stamford had 14 parishes, each with a church. It also has many types of architecture. One Regency house has some windows bricked up to avoid paying window tax. It is from this tax that we get the term "daylight robbery" (probably the next move for Cameron and co). Next to the Assembly Rooms - an 18th century dance hall. Seats were arranged in rows. The prettiest girls at the front and the plainer ones against the wall, hence the term "wall flowers". Make-up consisted of white lead to cover small pox scars, false teeth were often taken from corpses and mouse fur replaced shaved eyebrows (hence the expression "high brow"). Some new lines for Avon and Boots? Cecil said that he would wait outside for a young maiden. Jill then told us that Stamford was not bombed in the war, probably because pre-2nd World War Von Ribbentrop rode with the Cottesmore Hunt and Goering played golf at a nearby course; Goering had apparently also earmarked Burghley House for his country estate after Germany's invasion of Britain! In their quest to take over the world, Tesco's demolished an 18th century hall, leaving just a window in a wall; thus doing more damage to Stamford than the entire German Luftwaffe.
Browne's Hospital was our next stop where we saw a lovely group of almshouses built round a courtyard. The benefactor provided eleven men with accommodation and a uniform; also two ladies to look after them - I bet they were popular! Apparently, the yellow stained glass in the courtyard walls was coloured by mixing the ingredients with urine - redheads being the post popular.
Having viewed the last house in which Charles I spent his last night of freedom, we made our final stop at a modern spike like tower, said to represent a modern Queen Eleanor Cross; not to the liking of Jill and many local residents. Here Jill left us after a most informative tour.
We then made our way to Burghley House, one of the largest Elizabethan houses in England. As rain was imminent, we decided to tour the gardens first. The Garden of Surprises is the ultimate water garden with grottoes, fountains and various other features including a cascade of water across the exit path! We finished our time outdoors by touring the sculpture garden - with many modern sculptures including wooden figures balancing in a tree. We then toured the house. Each room was filled with amazing furniture, painted ceilings and tapestries, etc. it seemed no-one in our group would want to do the dusting. We finished in a large hall with a high hammer beam roof. Then out into the rain.
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