Newsletter for 2002

See what we got up to in 2002!

Xscape, Milton Keynes (Article by Lesley Moore)

Twenty-nine adventure seekers joined the throngs at the Snozone, we all got kitted up in our warm gear, then sorted out the "best fit" helmets, picked up our "mini" toboggan and off we went into the snow! Brrr it felt cold - but not for long!

Unfortunately as there were so many of us, the moving ramp gave up the ghost half way up so we had to climb to the top of the slope (bought back memories of Snowdon!). As we reached the top most of us were puffing and panting but ready for the thrill of going down. I must admit it looked a bit scary, but the bravest got on their toboggans and whizzed down to the bottom, the rest of us followed in hot pursuit. After about 4 runs down we were experts - no stopping us: we zipped down - some even thought they could do tricks and zoom through the gaps in the barrier!! It was brilliant fun - after just over half an hour our session was up and 29 weary, hot but exhilarated adventurers had to pack up.

We changed out of our now very hot attire and enjoyed a pleasant meal and a drink in the cafeteria. An experience well worth repeating.

This is by a brand new member who felt compelled to write (Article by Lorna Morgan)

Hurtling in an out-of-control zigzag down a bumpy slope, kicking up a blizzard where my heels dug in - either from panic or weakness, I'm not sure which - is not something that I would naturally do without the encouragement of a group of my peers.

Next day I expected to wake up with severe aches and pains from the acrobatic posture required to balance on a bit of plastic hardly bigger than my derriere. The only damage was one tiny bruise on my left forearm, which occurred, no doubt, on one of the several occasions when I fell off. This was a very small price to pay for the opportunity to act like a little kid.

Thanks, 50+ Adventurers for being so warm and welcoming and for help with my hat by a man whose name I forget.

Scuba Diving (Article by Pauline Ashby)

After an introduction to our equipment - which seemed very complicated - we immersed ourselves in the pool and proceeded to be "kitted up" as follows:-

Lead weights to make us go down,
Inflatable jackets to make us come up (and down),
Flippers to make us go forwards,
Goggles to see clearly (once spat in and wiped),
Mouthpiece to breathe through.

It all felt very daunting, but the first time that I put my head under the water, saw everyone else doing the same, and breathed in, it felt amazing.

We practised going up and down, then swam to the deep end and dived down to the bottom. It was a very exciting experience and one that I'm sure most of us would love to try in the sea (Maldives or Australia perchance!!!).

Feeling peckish after all the excitement we proceeded to the nearest Wimpy for a quick snack before heading home.

National Space Centre, Leicester (Article by Jean Denton)

5 - 4 - 3 -2 -1 --- WE HAVE LIFT-OFF! ! ! ! !

When first seen from a distance the Space Centre looks more like a giant stack of white tyres. Some of us had trouble actually getting in, our barcodes didn't work, but we eventually got into the theatre. As we reclined in our seats the action took place all around us and was mind-blowing: asteroids, planets and stars flying past.

Most of us made it up the "tyre stack" which houses two real rockets, but the day we went, the lift was out of order, and we puffed and panted our way up all four floors.

There are lots of interactive exhibits, brilliant for children and 50 plus-ers. Recommend you take the grandchildren (or borrow some) and enjoy.

PS There was actually a SPACE LOO on show!

Diving with Sharks (Article by Juliette Cowan)

On arrival, I was glad of cheery company after seeing the large display sharks suspended in the foyer at Chester's Blue Planet Aquarium, which has 5 star PADI resort status. During our briefing we learnt that the sharks are hand fed (!) three times a week and that the largest is over 10 feet long. The instructor had survived many "walks" through the artificial coral reef, teeming with 1500 tropical fish, where the sharks and manta rays cruise. The safety precautions to protect both fish and divers are impressive. The dive is aborted if you try to touch the fish. Only two visitors dive for half an hour at a time, protected by one diver in front, another behind, and a third "finning" above. We walked along sand, between realistic rocks and corals. Non-divers were watching through a huge observation window. Overall, this was a marvellous experience - when are we going again??!! A convivial meal was the perfect end to my first outing with 50+. Thanks everyone. sharks

Visit to Weetabix (Article by Jacqy McNinch)

Well, we had enough cars to fill the M25 and they all trundled through the gates of Weetabix. After donning the white coats'n'ats we really looked the part, thought we might have been dragged off to the funny farm, but instead we divided into two groups and set off round the plant. I must admit I went thinking it might be dull, but boy was I wrong. It took us one and a half hours for the visit which is slightly longer than it takes to make a "bix" and we had a taste at various points all the way through. Absolutely fascinating and so many Weetabix, just think of the milk used daily for just this one cereal - mind boggling. It's all very slick, even down to putting the glue on the boxes, and the speed just blows your mind. An excellent night, thanks Weetabix.

Orienteering, Salcey Forest (Article by Jane Tromans)

TO THE WOODS ....... (from a new member's perspective)

Walking in Northamptonshire (article by Joan Lamont)

Thank you Dave and the organisers for this year's 6 and a half mile walk around the Welland Valley. Approximately 30 people turned up on what was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and not a drop of rain fell, which meant that the ground was very hard under foot. There were a lot more animals to be seen, which was good, except for a rather large pig in one field; didn't really want to get very close to that and in another field a very large bull, but Dave showed no inclination to go in that direction, thank goodness.

All too soon our walk ended and we were back in Wilbarston for Sunday lunch. This was wonderful and I did note that not many people abstained from the puddings. The only black mark of the day was when the publican tried to charge us a lot more than the agreed amount, but thanks must go to our members who stood their ground, well done. A wonderful day out, many thanks.


Friday: 8 of us arrived at Luton Airport in good time for our flight to Dublin. One of our party was stopped with their hand luggage showing up a "dangerous weapon" on the detector and asked to open up. Result - a small Swiss knife, a vision loomed of us all being clapped in the cells - we were on a party ticket! However, by putting the knife in a self-addressed envelope, all was well. A good flight above the clouds and a ferry with its long wake could be seen on the Irish Sea. We would be in Ireland hours before them.

Once at the hotel, we headed out for a look round, some lunch and several pints of Guinness. Various bars and restaurants were noted on our tour, with a Mongolian barbeque decided on for dinner. We also booked a stageside table at the Arlington for Sunday night with Irish dancers, and typical diddly doo music.

Saturday: A full Irish breakfast to start the day, then some of us took a city bus tour in the morning with the various places of interest pointed out by the driver who also serenaded us with various songs, including "In Dublin's Fair City" as we passed Molly Malone's statue and commented on her obvious use of a Wonder Bra!

Some of us hopped off the bus at Jamieson's Old Distillery for a guided tour and a dram before going up the chimney viewing tower with its glass platform and panoramic views of Dublin's skyline.

Having got used to heights we then went on to the Guinness experience with its bar in the sky at seven factory floors high. We walked our way around the exhibition with its display sounds and video presentations of times past, gradually getting higher until we reached the lift, which took us to the Gravity Bar, and gave us our second panoramic view of Dublin whilst enjoying our complimentary glass of Guinness.

So on to lunch and wash tonsils with what else - Guinness, before hopping back on to the tour bus. A different driver this time, no singing, but a funny little laugh after each quip he made, sending a large family group into fits of giggles and a smiling but chilly top deck.

Before dinner tonight, which is to be Chinese, we gradually met up in the hotel bar and so started on, guess what? After dinner we charmed our way past the bouncers into a very noisy bar that had music. After a while, some found it too noisy and left to find a quiet bar, had some of the black stuff and were just about to reorder, only to be told, sorry, we shut at 11.30pm - IN DUBLIN!!!! So it was back to the hotel bar and bed.

Sunday: One party went to the Botanical Gardens and Phoenix Park which contains Wellington's monument, the Papal Cross marking the spot where the Pope held Mass, the American Ambassador's residence and the Irish President's home. The rest of the party walked to Merrion Square to look at Oscar Wilde's house and his statue, which is just inside Merrion Park. Lots of artists were exhibiting their work on the railings with all tastes catered for at prices up to 3,500 euros (£2,500). We now set off for our booked dinner at the Arlington with more Guinness and lots of red wine to wash the food down. Real Irish music, good Irish dancing and a stage-side seat. Then we danced and sang, with about 1,500 people making an attempt. Great night!

Monday: A last walk around various areas, some of it new. Passed a bar that had about 150 barrels outside ready for the dray to pick up. Must have been one hell of a weekend.

Stricter baggage check this end, which was unfortunate, as our "terrorist" was caught again, this time with scissors in the hand luggage. However, they did have a bonus in the form of some cuttings from the Botanical Gardens.

And so home, tired and happy, but with a need to dry out. Guinness is definitely better over there and even better from the bar in the sky.

Waendel Friendship Walk (article by Sheila Guilford}

As a new member I was pleased to see the 50+ badge emblazoned on a greeting member's lapel at the entrance to The Castle. Surrounded by jugglers, stilt walkers, uniformed troops and flags of all nations it was surprising that the group managed to meet up at all. A quick speech from the mayor and other dignitaries and we were off to a marching band accompaniment. I had to ask what 10km was in "old money" and wondered how the toddler in front of me, on reins and sporting the official T-shirt, was going to make it! Good walking weather, good company and good community spirit prevailed. For a mile or so we adopted an American cousin who was doing eight walks throughout Europe in order to get some special certificate or other. He marvelled at the fact that I was reading my map upside down. However, the highlight was definitely one of our members taking over Connect FM and singing the praises of the 50+ Adventure Club live on radio. The presenter didn't know what had hit him! I ended up with a certificate, some new friends, a drink in the bar and a fish'n'chip supper on the way home. What more could one want!

Narrow Boat Trip (article by Sheila Guilford)

Canal boat I thought I was seeing things when a pirate boarded our boat, complete with eye patch and cutlass. No, just one of our members getting into the spirit of things. Ten of us took the trip - luckily we had the allied forces on board to help with the technicalities of going forwards, reversing, un-bottoming (don't ask), splicing the mainsail (no - you're being silly now), swinging the bridge, dealing with canal rage, etc. We couldn't really have asked for better weather for mid-May and the picnic lunch was fantastic - particularly the sparkling beverage. Not only that but I have now discovered a nice towpath walk that I didn't know existed.

Multi Activity Day at Grange Farm

Clay Pigeon Shooting (article by Reta Vince)

The first meeting I attended with the 50+ Adventure Club was on a fine sunny day in May. I met the group at the farm and had booked in for the clay shoot, and quad bikes. There were three of us on the 11 o'clock clay shoot and we were taken to the shooting range by land rover. We were shown the guns and had a little safety talk. I have used a full 12 bore before, and believe me if you are quite small these guns can really make you feel sore the next day. But as luck would have it there was a 'ladies gun' provided for us two girls - bliss! The instructor was very good and all three of us managed to hit quite a few clays. It all seemed to end too soon and before we knew it the land rover returned to take us back to the rest area for lunch after which I joined another group for QUAD BIKES! ---- but that's another story......

Quad Bikes (article by Heather Hewitt)

There we were astride our quad bikes, with big grins on our faces, ready for fun. We had our helmets and gloves - well actually mine were marigolds - but they were colour coordinated with my helmet, so that was OK. We roared round the edge of the fields to begin with and apart from an unscheduled inspection of the crops by Jacqy, we managed to keep up with the instructor. We negotiated a wooded area and then came to a mini circuit. I found great difficulty steering while tilted on the hilly bits and kept ending up in the middle of the track in peels of laughter. Next was a big hill and after a pep talk from the instructor who looked unsure if we ladies could tackle this hill, we showed him what 50+ Members are made of. Full throttle we raced up the hill and flew down the other side: such fun, scary but great. I believe that Jacqy and I laughed the whole time and we were all in agreement that the experience needs to be repeated as often as possible. 

Archery Archery (article by Carolyn Baxter)

I don't think Robin Hood will recruit me to his band unless I practice archery a great deal more, and the French at Agincourt would have fallen around laughing. Still I did hit the target (mostly). The equipment was simple (just as well) - bow, arrows, a bracer to protect the forearm and a strange mesh object to prevent women from a DIY Amazon op. (they used to cut off their left breasts). It was fun and the instructor was helpful though his jokes about age tended to wear a bit thin. Who knows I might go to lessons! Robin eat your heart out! 

Horse Riding (article by Peta Jellis)

What am I doing up this high, with this moving unpredictable beast between my legs? I am talking about Lenny, a lovely BIG brown horse with a black mane. The flies were bothering him, so he kept shaking his head and moving about a little. But Lenny was wise. He knew that I wasn't a competent horsewoman so decided that he was only going to work as much as he chose! I did manage to get him to turn and trot and we went for a lovely walk down a leafy lane. It was nice to be back on a horse again but after an hour on horseback it was at least 3 days before I could cross my legs again!


Thames Barge Trip (article by Diane and John West)

Thames barge It was an early, gloomy start for our trip to Ipswich. 15 would-be-sailors whooshed along the A14 and made good time to arrive in glorious sunshine - one member even had time for a "full English breakfast" - before boarding the Thistle, dating from 1895 and now converted for cruising. The classic red sails are still used, supplemented by an engine. Skipper Dave and first mate Steve made us very welcome after the "galley girls" had loaded mountains of food and drink on board. 

We glided off down the River Orwell towards Felixstowe and Harwich, past the yacht clubs, the villages of Wolverstone and Pin Mill (popular with painters) and in contrast the container port. It was fascinating to see the large container ships and the giant "meccano" cranes unloading them, while around the harbour wonderful sailing boats raced about. 

We were well looked after with great food and drink while the barge tacked back and forth up the river with help from our party on the sails - such a leisurely way to travel. On the way back we had to go through the lock to the inner harbour - which involved some fancy manoeuvering to get us all in, and gave us the chance to observe the up market quayside apartments. We all enjoyed it, thanks Peta for arranging it. 

Grafham Water Challenges (article by Mike & Tricia Booth)

Challenge I: Fitting a square peg into a round hole (or rope in our case) sounds easy, try it when you're blindfolded, everyone had ideas on how to tie us all in knots. Thank goodness we had a maths teacher on hand. Task completed.

Challenge II (chain-gang): First class lesson in team working, some members ending up with longer limbs than when they'd arrived. Not to mention a lot of watery eyes and high voices. Ouch!!! 

Challenge III: The ultimate in egg racing: dropping a raw egg from 40ft up with a plastic cup and plastic bags and tape. Just leave it to the 50+ they can do it without a fuss. 

Challenge IV: Now we're cooking on gas, can't wait to get started. Where are the poles, barrels and ropes? We have to make a sailable raft. After last year's shortage on ropes, we were relieved to have more than we needed. Thought we were experts (think again). One team decided that the water looked inviting so over went their raft, which was propelled by a hardy swimmer back to the shore. 


challenge day

Not a "Hug in" but breaking out of Jail!

Foot Rally through the streets of Rushden (article by Pat Thurlow and friend)

It has been reported that aliens have landed in Rushden. These beings can be easily identified; they are walking the streets in pairs and carry a bright red square object believed to be some form of radar linked to their spacecraft. The public have been advised not to approach these aliens, as they could be dangerous.

Didn't they realise the 50+ Club were having a "Foot Rally"? I expect we looked quite strange wandering the streets, peering in doorways, peeping through windows and generally looking lost and bewildered. So would they if given the 53 cryptic clues that appeared in our red folders, but I am sure everybody found it great fun.

Our efforts were rewarded with a very tasty fish and chip supper back at the "Mother Ship" i.e. Campbell and Jacqy's house. There was at one point cause for concern when Anne and Peter failed to return at the stipulated time, it was feared they had been abducted by Humans for interrogation, but the aroma of their supper led them safely back to base.

Our efforts were duly calculated, some good, and some not so good; the winners Christine and Jacqy had an outstanding score of 43, well done! The evening ended on a high note with Peta announcing about the receipt of the lottery grant and we all toasted the future of the Club with champagne.

Water Sports at Grafham Water (article by Anne Kindleysides)

Our day began and continued in bright sunshine. On the menu: wall climbing, archery, kayaking, windsurfing and sailing. Being a complete novice at all of these, I viewed my first adventure with great trepidation.

In archery we had a friendly competition and by the end of the first round I was only 23 points behind!!! It was just as well that a final score was not taken. At the same time the even more adventurous were scaling a wall and seemed pleased with their achievements. Next, kayaking (supposedly to boost or demolish our confidence) involved two adventurers with two kayaks and two paddles. The task was to hold the two kayaks together whilst moving to the end of the jetty and then returning. It looked remarkably easy as the first teams moved off. They were obviously experts. It was impossible! We only reached the middle of the jetty before our kayaks parted company; my partner and I took an early dip. That was not the last time we were dunked that day.

We enjoyed sailing in the one-person dinghies and learned to speed away from the shore, tack (flounder in the bottom of the dinghy whilst madly ducking the boom before falling out into the water) and return. Other members of the group went wind surfing and they all looked excellent at it. I look forward to trying this out some day. The highlight for me was sailing with Andrew, the instructor, in the 4-person Wayfarer. The speed, grace and beauty of that experience was as exhilarating as the spray. Having enjoyed my baptism with the group I look forward to further outings. Thank you to all who contributed to planning such a fun day.

Newmarket Races (article by Campbell McNinch)

Hair flying, eyes bulging, legs thrashing, and that was just the 16 members who visited Newmarket Races. It was a special Cancer Research Charity meeting but for most of us it was an opportunity to top up the bookmakers' pension fund. The weather was ideal for what was for many of us our first visit to the Home of Horseracing. We wandered about, checked out the form and the horses in the paddock, seeing which looked the fittest, then backed the one with the prettiest colours or the best-plaited mane. The thrill of seeing 20 horses pounding past us no more than 6 feet away just takes your breath away and is as exhilarating as the occasional collection of winnings!! A pleasant meal and a few drinks rounded off a most enjoyable day.

Weekend in the Lake District (article by Ann Ralley)

Lake district How often do you get picked up at your door and taken many miles to paradise. Not often eh? Well 50+ manages to excel in this line. A small party of us set off to conquer the world - well Hawkshead first. All roads once led to Hawkshead, it was an important market town used by Furness Abbey who owned the land from here to Windermere. We were walking a 6-mile route and as we arrived at lunchtime there was one thing on our minds - fuel for walking! The weather was good and most importantly DRY. But this was a tester for our second day. We were made most welcome at the end of the day at Coniston YHA. After a cold shower (well mine was cold) a 3-course meal was devoured and we made our way down to the pub, where the midges proceeded to have their 3-course meal. 

Day 2 and Coniston Old Man was waiting, all of 2,631ft of him. The Old Man is popular with fell walkers but even though we had fantastic weather and visibility went for miles, our leader, Alan was star man in that most of the time we felt like we had the whole mountain to ourselves. Alan took us up past Low Water Lake, how can you think of a lake so high up on the mountain and call it Low Water??? We saw signs of days long ago when the copper ore mines were in action, this was carried all the way to Keswick for smelting. The summit was in sight, not that tha t made a lot of difference, in sight it may be but we still had to keep going up and up and up. How come the summit is always just ahead? I could go on and give a lot more detailed account of the climb but it would take up too much of our precious news sheet. We did reach the summit, in fact we had lunch sitting on the top in the sunshine.

We could see forever - on one side more mountains, on the other the sea - yes the sea! I will remember this walk not just for the views but for the flowers, everywhere you looked, beautiful foxgloves poking their heads up high through the bracken. We saw snake, wild orchid, and Alan play with a mole, in fact a fantastic weekend - to be repeated.

Welland Gliding Club (article by Lorna Morgan)

gliding Not that I have a phobia - or if I do its nameless and probably invented by me - but I do so enjoy having my toes in close contact with Mother Earth. As I stood at the airstrip watching the take-offs, landings and everything in between, knowing that my turn was close and the prospect of going up there without even the benefit of a turbo-jet engine was formidable indeed. The Club team were so relaxed, cheerful, well organised and communicative that the very least I could do was project a stiff upper lip. The weather conditions were perfect for beginners; the veterans, however, prefer something a little more challenging. Rain threatened but passed us by: I was going to have to go through with it! (It's better to burn than fade away.) When my time came, things happened too quickly for panic to set in. The small plane was already rolling towards us bearing its cable when my instruction began. No time for questions. (What did you say those dials were for?) No, I promise not to touch the green lever, the blue lever or the yellow ball. Wish I could remember why not. Am I in fact on the Starship Enterprise? A little confusion can be a good thing sometimes. A quick demonstration of the Ailerons (?) - I thought they were flaps - the rudder and the air brakes and we were attached and rolling. The trip up to 2000ft was full of noise, juddery vibrations and sudden little slips to the side which were a bit unnerving I must admit. The instructor released the cable, the plane disappeared to the right and we floated silently and smoothly to the left. I relaxed. (I am Icarus, I could reach the sun! Why only 2000ft? Why not the stratosphere?) A little more instruction followed and then a little bit of sightseeing: Peterborough appeared as a beige blur just below the horizon, Wellingborough, Brigstock, Lyveden New Bield with renovated water gardens. Controls? No thanks (perhaps next time). The descent was exhilarating (Biggles and I have the same problem - locating the landing strip) but this was better than going up. I now see why enthusiasts can build their whole lives around the sport. 

Summer Concert (article by Jane Hogg)

Visit the days of the landed gentry! On a backdrop of summer skies, broad oaks, parkland and mansion, a long line of cars wind their way through the gates of Lamport Hall shortly before six. Bastille Day? Eat your hearts out, French: this is our reply, the British Empire at its best!

Chefs, complete with candelabra, have been smuggled through the gates. People are trundling full wheelbarrows and dragging trestle tables. A modest 50+ pennant proclaims our place. Eighty percent of the audience are also clearly pre-Elizabethan vintage so this is not an embarrassment. The orchestra strikes up, and for the next few hours we are enchanted. Light fades on the facade of the 'big house' as the sun goes down. Musical numbers include parts of Coates 'Elizabeth of Glamis', a fitting tribute to the Queen Mother. Patriotism increases with 'The white cliffs of Dover' and 'I vow to thee my country'. Fortified with food and drink not to mention champagne, the audience becomes ecstatic, some sleeping on the rubber mat walkway, others wrapping themselves wildly in Union Jacks or leaping around surreptitiously in the shrubbery. A climax is reached with 'Rule Britannia', ' Jerusalem' and 'Land of Hope and Glory'. But the night is not over, the final strains of music bring a burst of fireworks (from the kitchen gardens?!) fit to wake the sleeping ghosts of many a Victorian gardener. We stumble across the dark parkland to our cars, counting ancestral oaks as waymarks.

Thank you fellow adventurers for fun and friendship and a most enjoyable night.

Water ski-ing and ringos, Grendon Lakes (article by Val Wrighting)

On arrival at the lakes, Mark, our helper for the afternoon, gave us basic safety instructions, showed us to the wet suits in an assortment of sizes, styles and colours and soon we were kitted up, and introduced to the first surprise of the afternoon in the shape of a large yellow banana. This in fact was a banana shaped inflatable boat, straddled by four people and towed behind the speedboat. It wasn't long before we all fell off, but the water wasn't too bad.

Next came the ringos, which are inflated tyres and you sit in them with your legs over the side, and hold on to the handles. This was so exciting that you either couldn't stop laughing or screaming. Everything came to a sudden halt when the boat refused to restart in the middle of the lake and had to be towed back to shore. The battery was changed and off we went again. However after a few more runs the boat stopped and everyone in it was again waving for assistance. Another tow to the shore, this time it was a broken steering linkage, which we thought would put an end to our fun, but no, a new linkage was found and repairs were soon in hand, so no one missed out.

The final thrill was the water skiing. Instructions first, then to the water, knees bent, arms straight holding onto the bar, skis with ends pointing up at 45%, and allow yourself to be pulled into first a crouching and then a standing position. Well that's the theory!!! I'm so glad I joined you if this was a sample of the things you do. IT WAS GREAT!

Punting on the Cam (article by Linda Street)

On my first morning, having just joined a new "adventure" club I waited in the Pemberton Centre car park. I was of course a little apprehensive wondering what the members of the 50+ Club were like. As a car approached the car park I did what any single woman alone would do at 8:30 am in an empty car park and that was "flash my badge" in the hope I would be recognised as a new member of the Club. It worked. I was greeted to welcoming smiles. Eventually other members turned up and we quickly arranged car pools to Cambridge. "Wagons ho" and off we went. We arrived in good time and being house-trained managed the loos, like good little children, before "embarking" on the punt. 

We divided into three punts and between us managed to block boat traffic within minutes before organising ourselves and deciding which way to "drive the darn thing". We all had a turn either punting or navigating by paddle. It was great fun and at the half way mark we stopped for a picnic. There must have been something in the drink because punting after the picnic caused Jacqy to immediately make a B-line for the willow tree resulting in not seeing all that sailed with her for a long while. Eventually they emerged and our three boats (the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria) battled the storm of traffic and manoeuvred down the Cam. The Earth almost moved when Campbell swayed and almost toppled over. At times it was a little like water jousting trying to manage the poles and to keep a balance while being bumped by other punts. It was a great day out and we all enjoyed the experience.


White Water Rafting (article by Ann Kindleysides)

Kitted out in wet suits, cagoules and fetching helmets we gathered around the rafts to hear the safety briefing. I for one was ready to go home before this talk was half done. One question that exercised my brain was how self-draining rafts would not fill up with water through the drain holes? Two rafts were allocated to our group. A group of young people taking the third raft looked askance at us. Were we mad ? Probably.

First we learned to carry the raft and once launched in the river we learned some basic teamwork: front pair work together and everyone else keep pace with them. We paddled around forwards and back. We leaned left and right and held our paddles upright as we stopped rowing. This was easy - no one fell in. Teamwork got us to the foot of the course where we disembarked to climb up to the start.

Then it was time for the off. Amazingly we manoeuvred down the course over the weirs and waterfalls to the bottom in admirable style. During the next round we had to experience the force of the water. This meant taking the raft under the waterfalls, filling them with water and leaning over to help the self-draining rafts empty themselves. Predictably this was where disaster overcame our raft and three of us were washed out, whisked under the raft and out into the shallows. "Stand up, stand up!" bellowed our instructor. Easier said than done, as the floor was very slippery. Drowned rats with heavy trainers we stood on the bank awaiting the raft.

During the final descent of the course the weather and the instructors decided we were not wet enough. Thunder crashed and lightning cracked as we were invited to jump into the water!!! This was an exhilarating experience. Thank you to all who contributed it was a fun evening.


We were new girls on the block, Linda, Margaret and myself and buddies for the day. After slithering and sliding down the bank we managed to arrange ourselves in the canoe. Very gently we manoeuvred our way to the middle of the river, the rapids looked as if they were flowing at 90 miles per hour, but fortunately it didn't feel like that and we were even able to turn ourselves around and head downstream towards Godmanchester (I think it was down). Very encouraged by this, Linda thought we were proficient enough to do our Hawaii Five O take-off. Well she is an American you know. We couldn't quite manage it so concentrated very hard on going as straight as we could and with Margaret steering we managed to keep out of the way of the posh cruisers and anglers. We did come within a few inches of hitting a parked cruiser but Margaret came into her own here and we slithered past with inches to spare. Eventually we reached the locks without too many incidences and pulled up by the bank for a drink. 

It was decided at this point that we would not paddle back upstream but would go back a different route, so out of the water came the canoes, dragged over the grass and dropped into the water the other side of the lock. We were the last to get going and everyone made a quick getaway down the river. This part of the river was quite a bit narrower so when we saw a posh cruiser heading our way I think a little panic set in and suddenly we were reed bound! We decided to sit there until the cruiser had gone much to their amusement. I remember saying something silly about being from the SAS and doing a bit of surveillance and the next thing I remember was coming up for air. Canoes will just not go sideways over reeds! Funny how people react in such situations: Linda was embarrassed, Margaret laughed and I went into a flat panic. After what seemed like hours, the marines came to rescue us and dumped us unceremoniously back in the canoe and we set off manfully to meet the others. They said nothing but I think the dripping clothes and duckweed in our hair gave the game away. Later, another canoe was given a push start and over they tipped, being shallow, they only sat in the water, but it didn't matter at least they were wet. No we didn't laugh, it was more of a "YES!" Sorry guys but you upped our confidence no end. We were now on a high so tried the Hawaii Five O, and we did it - passed 3 canoes and took on a race to the end. Great stuff. We had a fabulous time: the sun came out; we saw a moorhen and her chicks and beautiful water lilies. Good company, can't wait to do it again. (Ann Dodson)

Canoeing, a gentle sport if you want it to be. A sunny, Sunday morning, a quiet river, great instructors and "Three Men Persons in a Boat". No!! That's too easy for the 50+ Adventure Club. Falling in, blackberrying and getting stuck in the riverbank - that's more like it!! Joking aside, apart from one or two hold-ups, a lovely morning was had by all - again. (Pauline Ashby)

Powerkiting (articles by Grace Wright and Ann Whitworth)

Walking across Dallington Park on this very cloudy, muggy Sunday morning we met Mark who was our instructor for the day. He had already been busy arranging several kites across the park for us to fly. After a short demonstration, it was time for us to have a go and full of enthusiasm we paired off taking a small kite with us. The wind came and went, blowing from all directions making us move round trying to find the best spot. We changed to larger kites and with great excitement we did manage to fly these, nearly taking us up with them, then the wind would drop and so did the kites - with an almighty thud. After all the running backwards and forwards we ran out of puff, I think we were all shattered and ready for a rest and lunch. I was surprised at the strength required to hold these kites when filled with air. It was all great fun, look forward to the next time, but hoping for a little more wind.(Grace Wright)


If only we could have taken our own wind and not chosen the stillest, hottest day of the year! It certainly felt that way running around trying to launch the various sized kites. However, determined not to be beaten I persevered until I managed to fly my 4.9 metre model, albeit into the top of a horse chestnut tree (managed to fell a few conkers but they were not ripe!). Mark, our instructor, was very patient and soon had the wayward item safely on the ground again. He was extremely enthusiastic about his sport and gave us a good insight into what might have been. We could only imagine what a thrill it would have been to be towed in a buggy by the power of these kites that could almost make us overbalance when there was no wind. (Ann Whitworth)

Longtown weekend 6/8 September 2002

Saturday's activities

Gorge Walking in the Brecon Beacons (article by Tony Kightley)

Awoke at 7.30am to a dry sunny morning. The choices for the day were caving and gorge walking, I chose the latter. First of all we visited the barn to collect our safety equipment that consisted of a wet suit (jacket and trousers), wellingtons, life jacket and helmet, then off we set. Upon arrival we geared up and followed the path and steps down into the gorge. We walked through a waterfall side-by-side holding on to each other's safety belts, the water was flowing quite quickly and the rocks underneath were very slippery. I felt very excited, as this was a new experience for me. Next we zigzagged across the water walking downwards away from the waterfall. The water gradually became deeper and reached over the top of our wellingtons; in parts it was almost 1 metre in depth. We had to hang on to each other to avoid slipping and work as a team.

Further down the gorge we spotted another waterfall, larger and more spectacular than the first one. We had to cross the top of the waterfall near the edge with the water rushing by around our feet, it made me feel nervous yet excited. We climbed down the rocks to the base of the fall then we walked behind it. Again the feeling of exhilaration was with us as we walked behind the curtain of water; the noisy, rushing sound and the power of the water as it hit you. The instructors were waiting on the other side ensuring we didn't slip. Unfortunately, one of our members did: Peta was knocked off her feet by the flow of water and twisted her knee. ALL HANDS TO THE RESCUE! She managed to limp through the waterfall with the help of the instructors. She was very shaken and needed to rest for a while. The challenge now was, how to get to the minibus with an injured person? The path to the top was very rocky and steep and two to three hundred feet above us. Carrying her wasn't an option so she hoisted herself up backwards with support from the instructors and members of the group. At the top a plastic sheet was used as a stretcher and she was carried to the minibus, everyone taking a turn. We then changed and drove back to the centre. At this point Peta was taken to the hospital for a check-up that revealed torn ligaments!!!

Later that day after dinner, we had a hilltop walk planned for us, which finished at the local pub in the grounds of an old abbey but halfway up the mountain. Some members decided to go to the pub instead. I continued up the path with the remainder of the group. At one point, Edward our leader was studying the map with a confused look on his face, but we did make it to the pub in the end. Thank you to the Fifties Club for a most enjoyable weekend.

Caving in Porth Yr Ogof (The Blue Pool) (article by Mary and John Wilson)

Eight of us went down and eight of us came back. We wore green wellies, cave suits, helmets and miner's lamps. After listening to Mike, our instructor, we made our way to the entrance (or the Rufty Tufty Teenage Entrance - as Mike called it). Clare checked all our lights were working and off we went into the stream below, crawling on to a ledge into our first cave. We then proceeded to crawl, clamber or creep, banging our helmets occasionally on the roof (not used to wearing helmets you seem to make allowances for your head getting through but forget there is a helmet on top of it!). At one point we all sat down and turned our lamps out to sit in total darkness. We were squeezed into a small chamber and looked up at the sunlight showing through some holes in the rocks above, then Mike moved aside to reveal the "letter box" - a slit in the rocks where you could post yourself, first class or parcel post. Whichever one you chose the person behind you had to push your feet through to get you started.

Mike gave us interesting talks as we rested about the caves: types of rock; the deposits that form patterns; the fossils in the pools; it once being a tropical sea bed. He also showed us his favourite fossil (not one of us I hasten to add!). He showed us the Death Ledges and the Rat Hole, luckily there was an alternative route. I like the way Mike told us to slide down into a puddle and then he and Clare arrived round the corner without getting wet!

The cave roof was getting lower and the water was getting higher. For the four of us who were not very tall, the water was up to our chests and it was freezing cold, so inevitably took your breath away. Then we were out into the ozone! Mike and Clare were very supportive, friendly and humorous. It was a brilliant experience.

Sunday's activities of Personal Challenges (article by Pam Beirne)

It was a beautiful warm and sunny day which was to be spent in the activities field, but first Mike one of our instructors decided that we should limber up with a bit of Orienteering around the field to warm up our muscles and test our powers of observation. This lasted for about an hour and was good fun. Then it was down to the various equipment for the real challenges to begin.

This being my first visit to Longtown, I was in awe at the achievements of the group: climbing a forty-foot tower then abseiling down the other side; sliding on a zip wire (a tremendous feeling but very scary when you first step off into space). Not as scary as the leap of faith from the top of a high pole hoping to catch a trapeze and swing in mid air! I'm saving that one for next year!

Some members walked on a high beam and above that an even higher wire, and three of the chaps, climbed almost to the top of the Jacob's ladder, which is like a four tiered swinging trapeze with each bar getting further apart. We were all very impressed with this.

Our instructors were all great and encouraged us to attempt things that we probably thought we couldn't. It was all very safe, we were always on safety ropes, but that didn't stop the nervous, exciting feeling of attempting what seemed like a life threatening feat. All this, I may say, was accompanied by shrieks of laughter resounding around the field from Peta watching on the side lines! The day ended with a meal together after which, Bob, the chief instructor and Manager of the centre, gave a debrief of the weekend and awarded us all certificates of achievement. The greatest award went to Cecil who was awarded a coveted Longtown medal for his achievement and for his great help in the mountain rescue of Peta. It was a wonderful weekend with a great group of people, and an experience I shall never forget.


Paragliding - that never was (article by Margaret Warren)

It was a lovely day, the sun was shining and we’d been given the all clear, it was all systems go, go, go!!

We all arrived via different routes, (despite being given a detailed map - just as well we weren’t orienteering) at the Airways field in Derbyshire, ready for the thrill of our lives, dreams were to become reality today!

We were then given the sad news that the wind had freshened and the flights looked like being cancelled. The feeling was one of disbelief, then acceptance of the situation. What should we do? Having driven for two hours we just couldn’t head home again so soon. Some decided to hit the local garden centre for a welcome cuppa, some decided to hit the antique shops in Ashbourne and some returned home feeling very deflated.

Heather and myself walked back to the car as Linda came from behind flapping her arms, still with the hope of flying with or without a paraglider. We decided to have a cuppa at the garden centre and a bit of retail therapy. On leaving, Heather was holding her carrier bag to the wind to act as a windsock "Look do you think the wind has dropped?" she asked. It hadn’t, we were just in the shelter of the valley. I think we all hoped the wind would change but to no avail.

Not wanting to return home just yet we headed for the open road, with absolutely no idea where we were going. We arrived at a lovely little village near Dovedale called Ilam. It was so picturesque, little tiled-roof cottages and flower filled gardens. A small stone bridge spanned a wide river, a very idyllic setting. Further up the road was a National Trust House: Ilam House set in beautiful grounds, so we set about exploring. We felt very privileged to have come across such a place and although we were terribly disappointed at not achieving our aims, this place and the surrounding countryside did make our day worthwhile.

Cycling Brampton Valley Way – (article by Diane & John West)

Lying in a steaming bath - gin and tonic in hand - its hard to realize that a few hours previously we had been out in the wind and rain peddling along the Brampton Valley Way, the old railway line between Northampton and Market Harborough. The day started well – cold yes – as 10 stalwart cyclists set off whilst the support gang went ahead to meet us half-way. Two dislodged chains and a breakaway mudguard within the first 5 minutes and then we were seriously away. Remember Beryl Burton and Reg Harris? Forget it – we were nothing like them!

Christine and Bob had opted for a tandem while the rest cycled singly – some in spurts – but for the most part at a steady pace. The rain was a pain but the countryside was attractive although the sheep must have thought us quite mad.

When we reached Kelmarsh tunnel we all hesitated. About ¼ mile long and completely black, but we saw a glimmer of light in the distance. With no torches or lights on the bikes it was an odd sensation and completely disorientating. Pedal on – pedal on – 2 miles to go and Campbell flashing his car headlights to welcome us. Lunch at the George, Great Ockenden was great. We were wet, mucky, tired and only halfway!

Refreshed, the 10 stars who had started – Jacqy, Linda, Ann, Jane and Dennis, Christine and Bob, Tony, Diane and John were reduced to 7 for the return journey; 3 wisely opting for a lift back. It was hard going for some – beginning to get dark – late to return the bikes – oh dear.

Bob threatened to pedal through the blackness of the tunnel but no – Christine jumped off – Bob pedalled on – realised that something or someone was missing, then walked like the rest of us!

However we all made it back. The hero of the day was Campbell. Anticipating our needs with a cycle carrier on the back of his car, he met us with 2 miles to go and ferried the stragglers back.

Wow – what a day – time for another gin and tonic!

Murder Mystery Evening (Article by Linda Vickerman)

It was a dark and gloomy night.... well it would have been without the car headlights on! Off to the depths of Thrapston with my sidekick Dr Watson, a murder to solve was the mission!! Brilliant deduction led us to suppose the Bridge Hotel must be near the bridge ... yes there it was - so far, so good.

We entered and were directed to the stables where we found stalls full of tables (not horses!). We were invited to partake of the local brew, which we downed with gusto. From then on it was a bit of a blur!!! I remember being informed there was a body behind the fairground, someone had won the lottery, a child had been accidentally burned with an iron, a shifty warehouseman, a single mum, a frustrated old maid, drugs in carpets, an obnoxious boss, love affairs, debts and blackmail. It all made my head reel! Whodunit??? I can’t remember!!!!! Anyway the murderer was revealed.... a prize went to the winning team, or was it the losing team? The best bit was the food, enjoyed by all (Peta was seen to devour a huge dish of calorie laden chocolate profiteroles!) YUMMY!

I then took Dr Watson home, carefully checking car park first for suspicious characters with blunt instruments!! Thanks, it was a great night out.

Ski-ing for beginners at the Snozone (Article byAnn Cox)

First, we were given big red boots, which we had to clamp onto our feet/legs, which immediately felt as though we were set in concrete, then waterproofs, safety helmets, skis and off we set for the snow.

Soon we were making our way up the slope, sideways and trying to learn how to turn, stop slipping down again and then ski down the slope, under some sort of control! On the whole we did well and there were broad grins.

Then, we were introduced to the moving belt that would take us part way up the slope. This is when disaster struck! The instructor was assisting us to step off the belt but lifting a long ski and moving it 90° to step off the belt resulted in tangled legs and skis waving in the air, many bruises and some embarrassment.

We enjoyed ourselves but I did not hear of any plans to go to The Alps!

Climbing Towers, Snozone (Article by Lorna Morgan)

After watching our ski-ing companions perform for 20 minutes, the four of us sauntered over to the climbing towers to be fitted out with sit harnesses and helmets. The incredibly narrow and pointed climbing shoes provided were (an hour later) a real joy to remove. When you’re clinging to tiny protuberances on a curvaceously undulating, mock rock face, though, you don’t think about the comfort or otherwise of your feet. It’s a whole-body experience and the mind is fully concentrated. If it was 5th November, and someone let off an air bomb in the vicinity, you might find yourself falling into a state of ‘all-seeingness’ like the Buddha. Furthermore, I was only about three feet off the ground when I came to that conclusion. Anne and Dave were way up above me. I trusted them not to fall on my head and they didn’t disappoint me.

John climbed to the very top three times. (The towers are 42 & 45ft in height, and a lot more difficult than the 40ft tower at Longtown). Not only that, but he didn’t bother to descend by the automatic belaying apparatus, choosing instead to climb down as well as up.Quite a feat! I feel sorry for John. Whereas I now feel confident to land on my feet most of the time when falling on a belay line from a height of 6ft, he has conquered Everest. He is going to have to seek out more and more extreme and bizarre challenges to keep him going, just like the makers of the James Bond movies or our good comrade Cecil. I, on the other hand, will remain sanely content with small achievements over the years. I need more muscles, quick, though. Does anyone know where I can procure some steroids? I’m willing to pay good money!


Annual Dinner Dance (article by Jacqy McNinch)

Well, was that a night to remember!! I managed to get a few piccies so if the porno police will allow, and they come out OK, you may find yourselves up on the website for all to see!! (Website address see below).

It was a fabulous night from beginning to end. The first bit of excitement was when Campbell (our Chairman) presented Elizabeth Newton with a bottle of bubbly for being our 100th member. Pat yourselves of the backs fellow members: that is some achievement inside 3 years. It is every single member that makes our Club what it is and aren’t we all proud to belong.

The food was good, hot and served well and you probably noticed that I slipped in the first game before the sweet, “Guess Who I am Forehead Sticker Game”. It really set the ball in motion and certainly, on our table, produced hoots of laughter. The second game “Newspapers” was hilarious, lots of elbow nudges, eyes being poked, dirty fingers and wails of “I’m sure I’ve got pages missing” – well, we did recommend you wear your glasses!The third game was the bean on a spoon, and again looked absolutely side-splitting, I do believe there was a certain amount of cheating on the second round, but at least it was both sides. The very funniest was the “Pass the Hip Prosthesis Game”. I have seen some sights but that was so, so funny I had to go to the little girl’s room straight afterwards. Stocking tops, boxer shorts, cleavage and hairy legs was the order of the night. There’s always one isn’t there, on one side it was Jim who had trouble with his legs and arms, and Dennis on the other side who must have knitted the wool through the button holes in his boxer shorts, for the length of time it took him (and me, oh yes I was in there) to pull the prosthesis back through his clothing. SIMPLY THE BEST. Our last game was “Pass the Balloon On by the Knees, and Back by the Neck”, I really think this was just an excuse for most people to get close to one another, but then at our age we don’t care, do we?

We finished off with some serious dancing, ie flinging ourselves anywhere the limbs would go. It was a wonderful night, made very special by every one of you. Thanks to you all and especially Pauline for making it possible.

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