Newsletters from 2001

The Club issues a monthly Newsletter to all Members. After each Activity, a member writes a brief résumé of the event. Read below to find out how they went!

Peterborough Cathedral (article by Marion Hollis)

On a freezing Saturday, 9 of us met at the Pemberton Centre en-route to Peterborough for a guided tour of the cathedral. Our guide met us at the entrance and showed us around the cathedral. She was very knowledgeable with all the facts and dates off pat (which was kind of Pat). It certainly wasn't a pseudonym of Cromwell. Our guide was no fan of Cromwell. Despite at least 3 huge boilers the cathedral was none too warm, so we bunched up together wherever possible, to stem the shivering.

The cathedral was beautiful, and after the inside tour, we went outside in the cold to look at the "learning walls of Peterborough" but decided it had been there for a good few years and leaning or no, it would still be standing for a good few more. We then went to Beckett's café for some lovely hot refreshments.

By the way - did I mention it was very cold?????? Many thanks go to Chris for organising our enjoyable tour.

Pitsford Reservoir Walk (article by Jacqy McNinch)

Well, the forecast said rain, but we were very brave and set off anyway. Luck smiled on us that day because the rain kept away all day but, it was extremely blustery and blowy. It was a lovely walk though, a few of us took a pit stop for fortifying soup or sarnies, while others ploughed on with gusto.

At one part I noticed that the ducks on the water looked like buttons on a quilt, all equidistant to prevent crashing into each other and with their heads tucked down against the wind and the waves. The main thing we did was to natter and gossip, we succeeded in blowing away any lurking cobwebs. The café at the end was a very welcome sight and the hot drink was even nicer. Brilliant walk and many thanks to the weather for keeping dry.

Peterborough Climbing Wall (article by Pauline Ashby)

On entering the hall, I must admit I was nervous. After a short induction course and a struggle into our harnesses we proceeded to attach ourselves to the ropes. A few minutes of practise with the clips and ropes and it was on the "rock face".

I did struggle for a start - I was not enjoying this!!!! When our team moved to an easier rock face, I managed to get to the top and abseil down - HURRAY! Whilst trying to climb the rope fixed to the large cone-shaped rock, Clive came over to me. Attaching the rope to both of us, he said, "Come on - you can do it". No I can't, I thought to myself. Under his excellent guidance, I managed to climb the ROPE and the ROCK and I touched the CEILING!! "How do I get down?" I shouted, "Just let go!" he yelled back. I did, and was lowered gently to the ground.

The feeling of elation was almost overwhelming - I never dreamt I could do it - I was shaking like a leaf, however. It just goes to show that you don't know what you can do until you try.

Greyhound Racing (article by Lesley Moore and Celia Curtis)

We went by mini-bus to Peterborough, 'stake monies' jangling in our pockets ready for an exciting evening at the greyhound races. We were given our '6 pack' on arrival which entitled us to a meal, 2 pints or 2 shorts, and 2 x £1 bet tokens (can't be bad).

We started with the booze while we studied 'form', then enjoyed our meal and settled down for some serious gambling!!! Well some were lucky and others not, including myself who didn't win a thing, even though at one stage I picked three of the 6 dogs running and still managed to lose. Never mind, win or lose we all had a good time. (Lesley)

What a choice there was in the betting: Win, Place, Forecast, Trio, Always forecast etc etc. We started on “Place” which meant your chosen dog could come in 1st or 2nd to win, but without any success. However, after changing tactics we were much more successful and recouped our losses, so the night wasn’t a disaster after all. Not so for everyone though. Paul for instance had a nightmare night, especially in the last race, his dog was vying for the lead, when dog No 6 butted his right over the barrier - last again. We all had a grand evening and happily climbed aboard the bus for home convinced none of us would make our living at gambling, but it was great fun. (Celia)

Ten Pin Bowling (article by Alan Casey)

It had been some years since I had been ten-pin bowling, but probably not as long as some, who were reminding me of the days when you wrote the scores on a small overhead projector with a chinagraph pencil. Then there were those who had never experienced putting two fingers and a thumb into a bowling ball before. In all, 20 members turned up and we had a great night trying for those elusive strikes - mind you, when you get them you end up having fewer goes. The lanes we used were fitted with gutter rails so no one embarrassed themselves with low scores, indeed, one of the high scorers was Peta whose unique style lent more to a misspent youth in snooker halls than to bowling prowess. The evening was rounded off with a group meal, congenial banter and a drink or two. All in all, a very enjoyable and successful event on a wet, miserable Saturday evening.

Trip to Amsterdam (article by Jacqy McNinch)

In the days leading up to our weekend away I was getting more and more excited and I wasn’t disappointed.  The weather was warm and dry and the last day was gorgeous, warm and sunny, so much so, that I got a tan on my face.

We flew on a tiny plane which had very little waiting time, so giving us longer in Amsterdam. The events we undertook were a ride on a canal barge, a visit to Anne Frank’s house, the Rijks Museum, the Keukenhof Gardens, the Floating Flower Market and of course the “Red Light” district.  We had some wonderful snacks and meals including eating Vietnamese, Chinese and eventually Dutch, all absolutely fantastic, I could write a paragraph about each.

What I really want to say though is that there is a magical feeling about Amsterdam, a real mixture of cultures and distinct feelings of friendship, warmth, excitement, history, sadness, erotica, wackiness and above all fun. Six of us went and after the initial personality jostling, the leaders and the followers settled into place and the laughter began, in fact it was never far beneath the surface at all.  I have never laughed so much before in my life despite a stolen purse, a broken camera and a pulled muscle amongst the party.  We were determined to have a good time and Amsterdam gave us that.

Cycle ride round Grafham (article by Campbell McNinch)

On a sunny but cold morning 9 hardy members set off to circumnavigate Grafham Water by bike. We were all very sad we only had to tackle 10 miles round Grafham rather than the 23 miles round Rutland which was closed due to Foot and Mouth restrictions, but we bore our disappointment bravely.

Soon we were all well spread out but we progressed at our own suitable paces, sometimes resting after the steeper hills, but still finding enough breath for a chat.

We all met at the fishing lodge for a coffee and a rest, and then on to the finish. Another coffee, chat and then home, others had a rendezvous at the pub.  It’s still a pity about the extra 13 miles!

Steam train ride on the Nene Valley Railway (article by Jacqy and Campbell McNinch)

The day was chilly but sunny, and the rain held off.  We travelled up and down the track during which time Peter the Archivist gave us a running commentary on the history of the Nene Valley Steam Railway: about the films made there, the accidents that happened locally and the important work done there before, during and after the last war, he was very good and gave us a good background and flavour of life on the railway.  During our ride, Alan Casey, lucky man, was travelling on the footplate; he’d won the raffle and had a wonderful time “pretending to be the driver”!  We alighted at Midsummer Meadows, had a lovely meander around and up to Orton Mere, our next station, had a welcome cup of coffee and watched the canoeists and a boat going through the lock, before climbing back on the train and home. On the track side there were many signs of Spring, primroses especially, which gave us all a lift and then we had a wonderful buffet in our own private carriage, much to the chagrin of the hoi-polloi who wanted to join us.  A good old-fashioned chinwag followed, and then we made our way home.  A beautiful, tranquil, sunny day.

Canal Boat Trip (article by Diane and John West)

Twelve of us assembled on a beautiful morning at Stoke Bruerne. Assorted picnic goodies were loaded aboard the 'Skylark', a quick briefing and we were off. It was great travelling through the Blisworth Tunnel; about one and a half miles long; barely two boats wide and in complete darkness, apart from a small headlamp. Campbell was the Captain and managed to circumvent the occasional waterfalls very well. However, we did encounter 'canal rage' as the following boat thought we were not travelling fast enough! We had a late breakfast stop and then a much longer lunch stop with Christine having organised us all so we had a tremendous picnic lunch neatly laid out on the canal bank and washed down with sparkling wine. Thank you Christine for that. The weather was hot; we buffed up our suntans and discussed future activities. Over half the party "skippered" the boat at various times - with varying degrees of success! You need a light touch on the tiller and really have to concentrate! Back on time, at the end of an excellent day. 

Northampton Sailing Club (article by Ann Ralley}

A number of members took to the water at Pitsford Reservoir on a sunny, windless day. We were split into twos and threes to sail with a nice young instructor each and a Wayfarer (boat) to sail. Just as well we were in good size boats, this meant good size sails, which were needed, as it turned out to be quite a still day, so much so that one boat had to be towed back to shore when the breeze fizzled out completely in the late afternoon. Excellent instruction was given, regarding the way the wind blows (when it blows), which way to sail to "tack", or go on a "run", or a "reach" - we even had a short lesson on aerodynamics would you believe. Each of us had a turn at the helm, so maybe it was just as well there was no storm blowing. It was nice to realise the interest in our club from the instructors who asked many questions about the activities we undertake. For their part, they said it was nice to show adults the "ins and outs" of sailing. Apparently we do as we are told - unlike children! A very pleasant, de-stressing afternoon.

Ropes and problem solving (article by Ann & Peter MacGovern)

On a bright and very breezy day, 15 of the 'gang' arrived at Grafham Water. After initial instruction on helmets and harnesses we stood to face our first challenge. There was a choice but they both looked very high and scary. We set personal targets and felt an adrenaline rush when we'd achieved them. Next there was a team challenge moving 6 crates from A to B and it was great fun, but when we were issued blindfolds for the next task we were very puzzled. I only hope no one had a camera on us, as 15 adults, holding hands, staggered through tyres and around and under bushes! It was all about communication and trust! Our last challenge was of a mathematical or maybe logical nature and caused the biggest difficulty as people with different ideas shouted instructions to one another. The task was completed, however, without anyone coming to blows!! Having said our thanks for the excellent instruction and eaten our picnics, we departed having enjoyed yet another fun-packed morning.


Derbyshire Walk (article by Sheila Casey)

Hooray for 50+ and for the sheer thrill of experiencing those feelings of exhilaration we never knew existed. For years I was the loving mother who stayed at home with young children while my husband took students and scouts on adventure trips I didn't even bother to dream of. But now - wowee - it's my turn! 

The walk in Derbyshire (up over Kinder Scout) started off like a normal hill-walk - early morning start and indifferent weather - but it finished with every one of us feeling self-satisfied as we achieved new heights. Alan led us on a path known to himself and assorted Raunds scouts but at various points he gave us options: "If you want to, you can follow this path, but if you want adventure, we can go this way." Unanimously, we chose the adventurous ways! This included scaling a huge fall and bouldering - thank heavens for the practice at Peterborough climbing wall - and crossing a vast wilderness of peat bog using a compass. We also made new friends - some very inquisitive sheep that vied with each other to get into the photos! What a wonderful day it was! Thank you, Alan, for leading and thank you, fellow intrepids, for making it such a success.


Wherry Trip (article by Grace Wright)

Three cars left the Pemberton Centre for the wherry trip on a sunny morning. On arrival at Womack Waters, Norfolk, we were told one of our cars had broken down. After we had been introd uced to our very own wherry - The Albion - for the day, we unloaded the cars and waited for news of our missing members. After a one-hour delay, the fixed car set off to join us at our turning point and we set off without them. 

There was a fresh light wind and we sailed at a steady 3-4 knots. The waterways were alive with wild life: ducks, grebes, coots and we had the good fortune to see a marsh harrier and a beautiful heron on the bank. Ranworth Church came into sight; I'm told there is a fantastic view from the top over the marshes. The wherry is equipped for living on: large table and bench seats, and a sleeping area. We all enjoyed a good lunch starting with some very nice hot soup. On our return journey, there was plenty of opportunities to help with the steering, winching and coiling of ropes and also the de-rigging of the sail. The Honda motor took us into our mooring spot, and it was goodbye to The Albion - a wonderful day enjoyed by all. 


Raft building (article by Lesley Moore)

What a glorious day we had, ideal for getting wet!! 

We split into teams; each team was given the very basic materials for building their rafts, and I must say that all the rafts looked quite impressive when we lashed the barrels and poles together - that is until we had to carry them to the bank. En route the ropes came loose and our barrels were swinging!! One team's raft, mentioning no names, fell to bits and we had barrels rolling all over the place. Anyway we were given the "off" and three of the four teams were literally that, OFF and in the water! The successful crew smugly paddled their raft out and back before the rest of us were even floating. Eventually all except one team got their raft afloat and paddled out to the buoy, arriving back to land to be entertained by the unsuccessful team trying all combinations to make a seaworthy vessel!! (I understand there was a seasoned naval man on their crew!) They even tried the "Dell boy" 3 barrel version - unfortunately that failed too! 

After much laughter, and most of us dripping wet, we dismantled our rafts and went for a quick shower and a change of clothes. We took a break for a picnic lunch, and then had a session of problem solving, one of which involved getting soaked again! On another task we had our own sniffer dog Gemma to assist us with the un-detonated bomb. Unfortunately she was no help and we failed miserably to remove the bomb to safety. A really fun morning, and very well organised. 


Snowdon Bound (article by Mike and Tricia Booth)

Eight intrepid explorers set off across "uncharted lands" to claim it for "Queen and the over fifties club".

We arrived Saturday lunchtime to embark on what was said to be a gentle stroll around a lake but turned out to be a practice climb for Snowdon. At the end, after we had all been revived with oxygen, we headed for our accommodation and a well earned shower and evening meal then to the nearest pub, after which we turned in and dreamt about the day ahead. Sunday morning we ate a hearty breakfast and set off for Snowdon. The weather was perfect and we followed our trusty leader up the "Miner's Trail". Several bars of Kendal mint cake later, we raised our flag on the peak of what we thought was Snowdon and ate a celebratory lunch admiring the view. Alas we hadn't even started climbing Snowdon, so off we set again, up, down and around, until eventually we reached the top which had a café and bar. We had a short rest then started our decent, (whatever went in Pat's Ribena was just the ticket, there was no keeping up with her). The journey down and in fact the whole weekend was exhilarating.

Many thanks to Alan for being taxi driver and guide, thanks also to our fellow trekkers for their enjoyable company.

"THE OLD GLIDERS IN THE SKY" (contribution by Jim Bennison)

On a July Monday evening, on a hot and windless night
The intrepid over fifties met to make a fearless flight.
Dunstable Downs the take off point (was this their last goodbye?)
Winched a thousand feet into the air those gliders in the sky.

Yippee Hi Oh, Yippee Hi Hi,
Those old gliders in the sky.

They had their final briefing, put on their parachutes
And waited in the cockpit, some were shaking in their boots.
The waiting was the worst bit, that fact no one can deny
Then soaring to the heavens flew those gliders in the sky.

Yippee Hi Oh, Yippee Hi Hi,
Those old gliders in the sky.

Once high above the airfield the view took your breath away
You were flying like an eagle, forget the long delay.
It was so silent and majestic, it made you want to sigh
A wonderful experience for those gliders in the sky.

Yippee Hi Oh, Yippee Hi Hi,
Those old gliders in the sky.

There were fourteen over fifties it was a rush to get them done
At dusk the task completed, all agreed it had been fun.
We were feeling rather hungry in need of drink and grub.
A wonderful adventure for those gliders in the pub.

Yippee Hi Oh, Yippee Hi Hi,
Those old gliders in the sky.

Canoeing and BBQ (article by J & C McNinch)

The weather looked promising as we launched our canoes on the river Ouse. We "rafted up" - floating side-by-side, all 11 canoes, and introduced ourselves. You know the sort of thing, "I'm Fred Bloggs and I'm an alcoholic". Once river borne, charging into the banks with the pointy end was a very easy option employed by all of us. In fact, one couple that shall remain nameless much preferred this zigzagging course to the conventional route.

Godmanchester Lock was our first major hurdle. We were fortunate to find 5 cruisers about to use the lock, so we slipped in quickly and surely beat the world record with 16 craft in a lock together. Two hours further on we reached our picnic spot, stowed all the canoes safely and collapsed in a field, which apparently was the largest meadow in Britain, and there we enjoyed a lovely, leisurely BBQ. Our next trial was to "limbo" under, or climb over, two large beams. Only one person "came a cropper" when the boat and the beam went different ways, with out member clinging to both, but she only got slightly wet. A couple of people tripped out of their canoes at the end, to the merriment of everyone, but we all returned home safely, weary and suntanned, but happy. A fabulous day.

Jet Ski (article by Joy Saville)

Take 14 people, 3 jetskis, a warm, sunny evening and you have the ingredients for a thrilling event. After "suiting up" in the wet suits provided (in most cases badly fitting) our "motley crew" took it in orderly turns for their circumnavigation of the lake. A brief introduction and it was throttle out slowly, so that the instructor could jump aboard, and then all hell broke loose for some, and the boy/girl racer was born again as they whizzed round and round the lake for the allotted 20 minutes. Others took a more leisurely pace enjoying the experience until ....... the instructor took over the controls for the last few laps to demonstrate what "full speed ahead" was really like. Only two people "came a cropper", both blaming the instructor, and who are we to deny it? Altogether an exhilarating ride for everyone.

Ups and downs of a Country Walk (article by Janet McLeod)

As a new member going on a long walk for the first time, I was hoping the weather would at least be kind to me. However, on reaching the meeting place, the heavens opened. We set off down through the village - perhaps we could shelter in the pub? But no, on we trudged along muddy tracks trying to avoid the deep ruts filled with water. But hey, this wasn't so bad, friendly people to chat with along the way and then sun broke through the clouds. The experienced walkers forged ahead while I puffed and panted trying my best to keep up. Up and down hills, through fields of stubble, single file like a long snake across ploughed fields and along the country lanes of Ashley and Great Easton where the cottage gardens and manicured lawns caught everyone\rquote s eye. Finally back to the car to change and head for the pub.

WHAT A LUNCH!!! More than enough for even the heartiest of eaters. Desserts to die for, as well. A wonderful day and really the only problem was struggling up the little hills, but this was more than compensated for by the views at the top; a panorama of gold, green and brown patchwork fields topped by fluffy clouds in a bright blue sky. Thanks Dave, when can we go again?

Ski-ing at the Snozone (article by Marilyn Foote)

Skiing on snow, in England, in August, you'd never have believed it, but that's what we were doing. The Snozone is very impressive. We met in the café, which offered good views of the slopes, and after greeting each other excitedly we got "kitted out". 

There was a mixture of skilled skiers and nervous novices amongst us, those that could ski moved onto higher horizons and the rest of us gingerly sidestepped onto the lower slopes under the watchful eye of Anthony our instructor. We learnt how to ski down the slope, zigzag (in a fashion) and how to stop (most important of all). Yes, there were bumps and falls, (myself included - I now know what a dying fly feels like, lying on my back, legs in the air, unable to right myself). We all did well, it was definitely very hard, but great fun. 

To quote the words of one member "You know that bloke Eddie the Eagle, well I always thought he was a plonker, but now I take my hat off to him". 


Longtown Weekend (articles by various intrepid adventurers)

What a fabulous weekend, from the minute we stepped off the coach on Friday until minutes before we boarded it again on Sunday, the whole weekend was packed from breakfast till bedtime with action and FUN, FUN, FUN. We all achieved so much and overcame many of our fears. My greatest fears are heights, edges and deep water and many times in those few days I faced those fears, my proudest moment was during the gorge walk, climbing up rocks at the side of a waterfall, crawling under the gushing water and finding myself on a ledge roughly 12ft above a deep rock pool, then I was asked to JUMP!! It took loads of encouraging shouts from the group and reassurances from the instructor before I could move, then "Geronimo" - wellies full of water, I was on the way down and entered the water with a flourish - what a thrill!! Lesley Moore 

Being a newer member of the Club this was my first trip to Longtown, so I didn't really know what to expect, but was so impressed that I hope to go again and again.

Having an injured foot I opted for the canoeing and was not disappointed. The weather was warm and sunny with a slight breeze as we set off down the River Wye, after an early lunch. One or two mistakes later, we began to get the hang of it, enough to view our surroundings including a buzzard, kingfishers and their nesting places, and various waterfowl. The banks of the river varied from forest covered slopes to sheer, bare rocks. We managed to run aground at one point and had to jump out of the canoe to ease it off the bank of stones, luckily the water was warm.

Having made good time we went 7 miles further up the river than intended, involving some fast running water, which had to be negotiated with care. At Symonds Yat, a famous local beauty spot, we hit some cross winds that necessitated us sitting close to each other at the front end of the canoe to keep it in the water. It was hard work but exhilarating, a wonderful experience, to be repeated as often as possible. Diana Martin

Clinging the top of a 30 ft "Leap of Faith" pole, listening to the instructions from below on how to actually stand on the 9 inch diameter top, I didn't know what was wobbling more, the pole or my legs. With intense concentration I managed to place a knee on top and amazingly I then managed to stand. It seemed to take an age before I found my balance, eyes focussed all the time on the trapeze in front of me. Then as the moment came ---and I leapt *********** WOW!!! 

Thank you so much to the instructors (Paul, Lee, Mike, Bob, Richard, Ed, Hadyn Paul and Nona), to my fellow adventurers, and for the opportunity. Heather Hewitt

Picture: Night orienteering


Clay Pigeon Shooting (article by Jean Denton)

Saturday dawned fine and dry but quite chilly, this was the day to do some shooting at Sywell Range. We were divided up into two teams of five, with Graham and John as our instr uctors. First we had a talk on safety and gun control, then down to the nitty-gritty. Each of us had six shots at each of three different targets, and then changed places with the other team for three other targets. I found the "rabbit" was the hardest, as it seemed to disappear into the bushes almost as soon as I'd called "pull" . Then came a break for hot drinks and sustenance (they do a lovely bacon buttie!) while scores were added up. We then went back for another round and finally back to the club house for total scores. Whilst we waited, John gave us a history of the sport: after real pigeons were banned glass balls stuffed with feathers were used, glad we were using clays!!

The winner received an engraved plaque and the booby prize was a plastic pigeon. A very good afternoon, and if the event is repeated next year, my name can go down at once!

London for the day (article by Jacqy McNinch)

We set off bright and early, and before you could say "Jack Robinson" we had hit the smoke, mind you it took us another twenty minutes to negotiate the bus backwards and forwards around some very narrow back streets, the reason for which is a closely guarded secret, known only to the driver.

But we were in plenty of time, in fact the Frog was running very late so most of us had a coffee and boarded the Frog at the specified time. This was a wonderful ride around some of the sights of London and then down quite a steep runway and into the Thames with a whoosh!! Our guide was a lovely London character full of stories and jokes, which gave a real flavour to the experience. Six of us then headed off to the tube and Kew Gardens, lots of things to see and wonder at, we weren't disappointed.

Last, but definitely not least, the "Eye". We boarded at about 6.45pm, so it was dark, and after the bag search and the funny feeling of stepping into a moving glass bubble, my overall impression was magical. The city looked wonderful with all its lights and from many different angles as we moved around in the sky. There was a lovely feeling of camaraderie, inside the bubble as if we were experiencing something really special, which in fact we were. Even the Londoners in the group couldn't always tell which buildings were which. My absolute favourite was the Houses of Parliament, it looked fantastic with its millions of lights flooding that wonderful structure. All too soon we were back down, posing for a photograph from a static camera near the landing stage and hopping out ready for someone to clean and/or check for foreign objects.

It was a lovely, lovely ride and I wouldn't hesitate to go on it again, perhaps next time in daylight. The journey home was uneventful; we were just tired and happy.

White Water Rafting

The day dawned through heavy rain, undaunted we splashed our way up the M1 to Nottingham, pausing briefly for a recce stop, we set off again and hit a dismal looking Holme Pierpoint. After being kitted out in wet suits, and eventually wearing them the right way round, we set off for the river. We paddled gently to the top of the slalom course, then away we went! Sideways, backwards, (every which way and upside-down) we steered in and out of the teeming water. What a thrill and absolutely breathtaking. At the end we picked up our raft and walked back to the beginning. In all we negotiated the rapids 4 times before being released from our agony. The shower afterwards w as absolute bliss, and returned our body temperatures back to normal. (Article by Campbell McNinch)

Pouring rain, freezing cold, very scared - oh to be 30 again and not afraid to do these silly things!! Only joking - the thrill of the ride and watching Grace do a backward flip and be hauled back in the boat in one minute flat, made it all worthwhile. We paddled in unison, screamed in unison and got drenched in unison and had a wonderful time. Sorry Chris - we could all see by your face that you didn't. (Article by Pauline Ashby)

What is all that squeaking? Have we got a mouse in the boat? No, it was me!!! Every time we "shot the rapids", I was quite convinced I would end up in the foaming, brown water. Fortunately none in our raft did, although we did pick up other "drowning members". On our last run, Andy our instructor made the crew on one side of the raft paddle forwards and the other side paddle backwards, which sent the raft into a frantic spin, so we hit the bubbling water turning. That was called Russian Roulette, I didn't see it - I had my eyes closed! (Article by Peta Jellis)

Get changed; grab a hat and finally a paddle.
In these rubber suits one doesn't half waddle?
Pick up your boat and head for the shore,
Round in circles, now we want more.

Through the tunnel, was it marked abandon all hope?
We're ready for anything; yes we can cope,
Sit on the sides and paddle your best,
Look round for your mates, aggh! It's the Marie Celeste!

Five of the crew just up and went,
High in the air and then in to the Trent,
Christine picked up speed and headed south,
Think what you,re doing gal, but please close your mouth.

Past the boat she flew at one hell of a rate,
Inspecting the keel and on through the gate,
Into the eddy safe and sound, she's really all sole,
She just goes round, hoping there's no plughole!

Onto the bank via ignorance and might,
But why is her face so ashen and white,
The rest of the crew appear all wet and dripping,
Remember we're the 50+ and we ain't quitting!

Questions for Bob's raftees

1) Why does Gordon paddle faster in air than water?

2) Why does no one know left from right?

3) Will Heather tell everyone how she was lifted into the boat?

4) Will Christine mount the "white water saddle" again? (Article by Bob Wakefield)

Station X Bletchley (Article by Joan Lamont)

In spite of the weather being bitterly cold and very wet we really enjoyed our visit to Bletchley Park.

Station X? Never heard of it. It was one of the best-kept secrets of the war, 12,000 people passed through their gates - it took 30 years for the secret to be told! Even now, not many people know what went on, about the "enigma" machine, and the hardships suffered. Go to Bletchley Park and find out, it is well worth it.

All the guides are excellent and "know their stuff". They have computers from the year dot and you can walk through the huts and sense the conditions that prevailed during the war and were a vital part of the people of the Park. The Churchill collection of art was on display, and in the main house the original ceilings and mouldings are visible, with portraits of the old family looking on as we dared to walk their hallowed halls! The history of Bletchley goes beyond the "Enigma", but that will have to wait for another afternoon.

The only downside was that the beer in the bar was not served at 1940 prices!!

Bob Wakefield and the tale of Sulgrave Manor

Francis Drake came with Good Queen Bess, did she step on his coat, then cry off with his head?
He sat all night as quiet as a mouse, just saying Ma'am, it's a damn cold house.
Cardinal Wolseley blessed left and right, out of the hall and into the night,
Waving the cross to all who might pass, saving bad women for after the mass.
One monk was there among the flock, but wait till Henry starts to defrock,
Standing around all fine and pure, look closer brother: it is a false tonsure!
Anne Boleyn was a wonderful host, with hat over ears, she was making the most,
With limited days, she proposed a toast, pity that she was as deaf as a post.
Sir Laughalot, the knight with a snigger, parked his horse, is it called Trigger?
Acting nonchalant, cool but bored entered the room and tripped over his sword.
Who was the lady with her neck in a ruff, sat by the Lord with a real fancy cuff?
He strutted his stuff, a sight for sore eyes, proceeding then to eat all the pies.
The hall was full with Ladies of Court, showing off frocks that they'd just bought.
All of them were a wonderful sight. Could their bodices be a little too tight?
Henry VIII was strangely bemused, who wouldn't be with six wives to choose.
Will it be Anne, Jane or Kathryn tonight? It's obvious to all, his codpiece is tight.
In came the Lord with flimsy attire, pulled up his tights and sat by the fire,
Losing the way, then finding the map, wishing he'd hired the fir lined jock strap.
Who was the man with the cat on his head? Strolling around and eating the bread,
Why, twas a poor peasant, a desperate man, distantly related to Genghis Khan.
The days of misrule are now at an end, one cannot now learn the rules to bend.
Wash once a year, put a peg on your nose, don't be misled the smell is your clothes.
So, Lords and Ladies be of good cheer, eat up your vittles and drink up your beer.
Scoff all the cheese and the eggs from the quail, but not the mince pies or you'll go off to gaol.

Annual Dinner and Dance (Article by Jacqy McNinch)

What a fabulous night, I don't think I stopped laughing from start to finish; it was "a good do". The games especially were superb, thanks very much to Chris and Pauline for those. The free glass of wine also went down very well, and warmed us all up. My meal (steak) was excellent as I hope yours was. Everyone was in a super mood, which made it a very special night, thank you to the 50+ Club members for making it memorable. The only drawback now is, how do we "TOP THAT" next year!!

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