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NEWSLETTER FOR 2003

Read below to see how we enjoyed ourselves!

Ten Pin Bowling (article by Liz Newton)

Who would want to turn out on such a bitterly cold evening? Over thirty members of the 50+ Adventure club! As we chatted in the reception at Wellingborough Mega-bowl I discovered members’ bowling abilities ranged from novice to very experienced. After learning how to hold the ball I felt a little better.

Somehow we managed to divide ourselves into teams and the fun began. I was intrigued that computers automatically calculated the scores and alarmed that everybody would be able to see my dismal scores on the large overhead VDUs. Once started it was so enjoyable I ceased to care. Loud cheers, clapping and victory jigs from our clubs’ alleys indicated a fair number of strikes throughout the session.

Two sets of games completed, the evening finished with a meal in congenial company. My first adventure - hugely enjoyable - and I now look forward to my next venture.

PS. Please can anyone enlighten me as to why the left and right bowling shoes are laced differently?

Winner of this year’s 50+ Club Bowling Champion cup is Robert Wakefield, with a total score of 314, the presentation of which will take place shortly.

T obogganing at the Snozone (article by Peta Jellis)
 
 

tobogganing We were called “Saturday night sliders” – all 24 of us! I had heard that this was fun, and I was not disappointed. I thought that I would probably start off half way up the steep slope but as the safety briefing was at the top, that plan was foiled. Sliding from the flat bit over the “point of no return” is an experience I will never forget. Fortunately no-one was close enough to hear my vocal comments though I think that everyone on the slope heard my screams. I arrived safely in the snow drift at the bottom and enjoyed watching other members land laughing loudly at the thrill of travelling so fast.

We were told that we could use the Pomas to get back to the top. These were moving poles that you could “sit” on and which would help you walk back up the hill. Catching one of the poles was an art in itself that Grace was determined to try to master. I managed to do this first time and found myself going up the hill at a far quicker speed than I wanted. What I did not realise that it was necessary the get off the pole before reaching the top to go to the tobogganing slope. “Help me! How do I get off?” I cried to the Instructor. But it was too late and the poles marched me to the top of the slope, where I fell onto my knees and crawled away to recover. I now know what Mickey Mouse felt like trying to take charge of the broomsticks in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice! I enlisted the right arm of a very nice young man to help me back to the tobogganing slope <wink> and off I went again. After a good half hour, we were all hot, sweaty with red cheeks from the cold and laughter. We finished a great evening with a meal of pasta, curry or chilli.

Storytelling evening (article by Anne Kindleysides and Liz Newton)
 
 

storytelling Was it a Fluffburger or a Furburger?

Once upon a time there were 28 intrepid adventurers, they travelled far and they travelled wide to the faerie Bridge at Thrapston.

And they were brave and they were bold and in the Orchard they met with magical storyteller Polly. And she held them in her spell enchanted by the resonance of the Tibetan singing bowl and lulled by the waves lapping on the pebble beach. She told them stories of long ago: of native Americans searching for their destiny; of mystical Celtic butterflies; of moonlight in the dark, dank fens and of the horror of Mr Fox.

They were truly brave and they were truly bold.

They laughed out loud as Happy Bozzle fashioned braces from the skin of a conger eel who liked a tipple. They tittered at the antics of the Furburger or Fluffburger.

And they were brave and they were bold but not too bold so, as all good stories go, they lived happily ever after because they searched for their lost keys in the garden.

Scuba Diving (article by Ann and Steve Whitworth)
 
 

scuba Five of us set off last Saturday for the depths of Dame Alice Harpur School swimming pool in Bedford. Peta accompanied us to take photographs for the record.

We had mixed feelings at the beginning of the session but our fears were soon allayed by our three very capable instructors. First we were kitted out with very elegant flippers and masks, which made us all resemble oversized frogs, the final indignity was the rubber swimming hats!! Then it was on with the weight belt and into the water for some instruction.

The masks had made us feel rather claustrophobic and at first we needed to concentrate hard to breathe through our mouths. We were then helped into our jackets with attached tanks and thoroughly strapped in. “The main thing to remember is to trust your equipment” we were told, and surprisingly, once the mouthpiece was in place it became much easier to breathe in and out of our mouths.

Although we were not allowed into the deep end of the pool we all managed to dive down really successfully and give our “OK” hand signals to our instructors. In fact the time went so quickly that we were very disappointed when the lights went out and we were given the signal to “go up”.

It was the end of the session and Jacques Cousteau and team must return to the boat as the light was fading! Well, all right perhaps not quite but we all felt really pleased with ourselves and are definitely keen to try again.


 

Circus Skills (article by John and Mary Wilson)
 
 

Seventeen of us turned up to be greeted by the staff with a cup of tea.  Anne started the ball rolling with face painting. We were shown an assortment of things that we were to try our hands at.

The plate spinning was great, until you tried to get the stick in the middle of the plate. Juggling with balls or scarves was a little difficult, although Grace did well with the scarves and Heather was very good at both. The 3 stick business was a bit of a trial, I don’t think anybody got the hang of keeping the large stick in the air by using the 2 smaller sticks, although Jacqy was able to turn the big stick over and catch it several times.

The diablos were something else!

In between we played a few games of hoop-la and bowls, and rounded off the evening with a talent contest to see how everybody had done, nobody really excelled at anything but it was a very enjoyable evening and we had a lot of fun.

circus skills

ORIENTEERING in Irchester (article by Linda Vickerman)

It was a glorious day; the sun was beating down; heat shimmering across the meadows (well almost!). There we were, all togged up in jumpers, fleeces, coats, scarves, gloves, wellies, boots, hats (even a balaclava!!). Why didn’t Peta tell us she was ordering such a sunny day? We all arrived in dribs and drabs, some parking at the top entrance and some at the bottom; one even had a flat tyre! We all confirmed we had purchased our parking tickets - impressive and split into pairs, as the numbers were odd, we had two sets of threes (spot the deliberate mistake!!!). Eventually we were given our maps and checklists and set off at timed intervals, except one pair who will remain anonymous (too busy talking apparently!). Off we went trying to appear nonchalant when we found a post that others were still looking for! Up hill and down dale looking for paths, knolls, junctions, ridge ends, depressions (that’s the hole in ground sort, not the state of our minds!) and lastly boulders.

My partners and I (one of the teams of three!) fairly whizzed round or so it seemed, we even sprinted to the finish but were still only third. We then consumed tea, coffee and sandwiches and waited for the stragglers to arrive...they arrived in dribs and drabs, again. Cecil came back without his partners (another team of three!) he said he had lost them when he went into the bushes! Eventually all returned safely and prizes of bottles of wine were awarded and gratefully received!!

Thanks for an enjoyable morning out.
 

GO-KARTING (article by Allan Bailey)

For my first outing with the 50+ Adventure Club I chose Go-Karting at Whilton Mill. Why on earth did I wait until I was over fifty before trying something like this? 22 of us turned up to sit in plastic bucket seats (2" from the ground) with four wheels and an engine, and go charging around a course at speeds of up to thirty miles-an-hour. The warm up laps were fairly slow, sedate and cautious affairs, but once the racing started there was no holding back. What a wonderful way to get rid of all that pent up aggression and road rage. You can overtake on the inside, the outside or on a corner. Get it wrong, too sharp into a corner and suddenly you find yourself spun round, facing the wrong way and watching everyone go past.

The event was extremely well organised. After an initial welcome and briefing on safety and how to drive the karts we all had a couple of practise laps. Everyone then entered 5 heats with four or five karts per heat. On each heat we drove against different people with everyone's position and lap times recorded electronically. The twelve fastest from these heats went forward to the semi finals with 6 karts in each. The first 3 from each semi then raced in the final. 1 st , 2nd and 3rd climbed the rostrum to receive the adulation of the crowd and squirt champagne everywhere to finish a great afternoon’s racing.
 

OASIS LEISURE POOL (article by Diana Martin)

Twelve members braved a rather cold evening to visit the water event at Bedford.

Unfortunately the relaxing spa was not working but we enjoyed the rest of the features. The flume was very high and there was a slow one and a fast one. It was exhilarating, shooting down this tunnel at a rate of knots until suddenly you emerged into the water at the bottom. Most members opted for the slow one first and then tried the faster one. The only drawback was that your nose filled with water as you hit the water at the bottom. Nose plugs a must next time!

Then we tried the waves, and with eyes closed, it could have been the ocean; the only thing missing was the sun, sand, and seagulls but then we got a sudden jet of cold water that was sprayed over everyone by the staff. There were two other areas with different bubble features one of which gave a superb water massage. The hour and half went by so quickly and it was soon time to get dried and dressed for the meal that was taken at the poolside café.

Everyone voted it a successful evening and a return visit was certainly hoped for.
 

CHOCOLATE FEAST   (article by  Lilian Mathie)

I wonder, do 50+ have a covert policy of picking on raw innocent recruits to do their event’s write-up?  Well I fell for their ploy.
Now how can I possibly describe the event – words fail me!!  I can liken it to a time, not long after the war (giving my age away) when as a family we went to visit my Aunt and Uncle - they kept a sweet shop.  I remember standing among all the colourful jars of sweets, rather like standing in heaven.  My uncle said I could help myself to whatever I wanted!!  Disbelief, amazement and sheer excitement.  Later that day I remember having a lovely stomach ache.  I don’t remember visiting them again but I have never forgotten the experience.  In a similar dream I was sitting in Sainsbury’s café and this table was laid out with every imaginable chocolate treat and we were strongly encouraged to try everything even go back for seconds, thirds or more.  The table was constantly being replenished with more tempting dishes.  We began by tasting everything but quickly realised we would need to be more selective if we were to stay the course.  Our poor stomachs!!  All this was washed down with a plentiful supply of appropriate wines and fruit juices.  You think I am getting carried away - well there’s more!  The evening ended with a quiz, and prizes of chocolates and small eggs.
What an enjoyable evening, sheer indulgence spent in friendly company, a pleasant introduction to the 50+ Club.  It was also Jacqy’s birthday, which was marked by a luscious chocolate cake.  Now that’s what I call a birthday party!!
Very many thanks to the organisers.  A good evening was had by all.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE (article by Val Wrighting)

Although the Frontier Camp is not the place to be on a cold and windy day, nothing deters the 50+ Adventure Club.  The 30 or more members who braved the cold were split up into 4 groups, and then each group was issued with a raw egg.  The idea was to take this egg with you to each task, and at the end of the session to drop it from the top of the abseiling tower, to see if it would survive the fall.  To help with this, points scored on the tasks would be used to buy plastic cups, black bags, paper towels and sticky tape etc.
And so to the tasks:  We successfully rescued a ‘bomb’ from exploding by the use of two ropes; solved a number puzzle, and then moved sheep and goats from one field to another (not real ones of course.)  We then joined poles together with rope to make a frame upon which we all had to stand for 30 seconds, and with a little prompting from our frontier guide we even managed to balance ten poles on top of one standing upright.  Unfortunately we ran out of time crossing the lava field on our three crates and two planks, but we all had a great time.  Now we had to count up our points, purchase our black bags etc., make our parachutes, and launch our eggs.  One group had to also buy another egg as their original one had broken.  Hurray!  Finally, every egg survived - and although everyone was cold – so did we.

Greyhound Racing at Peterborough (article by Sandy Clifford)

Something I have never done before gone "Dog Racing". Will I make a fortune? Eyes down to look at the racing form: bit technical - so choose a name, or the colour of the dog, or the dog with the waggiest tail, or the trap. A challenge of minds to work out the bets and place them successfully - or just good luck! It was an evening of good fun with plenty of conversation, free drinks and food (well almost - we had paid for the "6-pack party deal" which gave 2 free drinks, a piping hot snack and 2 £1 bets). The surroundings were reasonably comfortable and warm as outside it was freezing. Listening to the joviality on the journey home, we all had a good time even if our fortunes were not made. I send my thanks to Anne, our organiser, for a very enjoyable evening.
 

NORTHANTS WALK  (article by Tony Kightley)

We all met at the Wheatsheaf pub car park in Upper Benefield.  There were 24 of us on the walk and we started off at 10am.  Our leader was Dave and the walk was approximately 6-8 miles.  We set off through the farmer’s fields, up and down through gates and spinneys.  The countryside was beautiful and the weather was great.  As we approached Lyveden New Bield we took a short break by the lake and gardens.  The property here belongs to the National Trust and was built between 1594 and 1605 by Thomas Tresham.  It was a very nice place, but unfortunately we did not have time to look around, perhaps another day.   Off we set again through the fields where some of our group reported seeing wild deer.  Our next landmark was Brigstock Gliding Club where there were gliders both on the ground and in the air.  We stood and watched for a few moments but off we must.  In total we walked for about 3 hours through the countryside to arrive back at our starting point, the Wheatsheaf, for a welcome drink and a lovely meal.   Thanks Dave for an enjoyable walk.
 

Derbyshire Walk (article by Dennis Tromans)
 
 

9.30 a.m. – Sunday morning in a wet car park. Eleven intrepid walkers prepared to do battle with the elements, it was the start of the club’s annual Derbyshire Walk! The first stage was a steep climb through woodland (no time to acclimatise our lungs!) opening out to fine panoramic views with the car park far below. Next, one of the highlights – Monsal Head – the pub was closed, too early! Ah well, more pubs on the way. Continuing on to Ashford in the Water, where we crossed over the A6 and commenced our second climb of the day, accompanied by light rain, turning to less light rain (OK, it poured down). The rain stopped, the sun came out, Sheldon village came into view, complete with pub, the Cock and Pullet. Time for a well-earned drink and our packed lunches before continuing on to Deep Dale, where the cowslips were in amazing abundance. Before we knew it we were back at the car park with 8 miles of enjoyable walking behind us. Many thanks go to Alan Casey for his leadership and navigation skills.


 

Waendel Walk (article by Jacqy McNinch)
 
 

The weather was perfect, sunny but with a wind that kept you at the right temperature. Twelve people gave their commitment and we set off with a will and a way. After the halfway stop somewhere in the depths of Wellingborough, my feet were saying ‘don’t stop again or you will never get me going’. It wasn’t easy, but hey, it was in a very good cause – we made £85 for Serve . Then came the fun bit, 4 of us staggered to a pizza place and had a lovely meal and a drink where we slowly came round. Well done everyone.

Multi-activity Day
 

Quad Biking (article by Linda Street)

Yet another challenge loomed ahead on a very lovely sunny day - quad biking! I simply thought quad bike = 4 bikes + 4 riders. NO ONE told me that fields would be bumpy. We looked so professional in our helmets weighing in at 40 lbs and our Captain Bird's Eye trousers, not forgetting our blue marigold gloves. Pete led the way with me in 2nd place falling back into 3rd place and soon into my stationary 4th place position. In fact at one point I was so far behind that I could have been mistaken for being early for the next session! It was easy down the lane but then as confidence became me, we were led onto a dirt track with ruts that make bikes tilt and go into fields of maize. Pete, my hero, offered me tandem position and then we took off. The others in the group were ab. fab. They took to the terrain, hills, water holes and turns like naturals. I take my hat off to them, correction – I take my helmet off to them. A great day!

Axe throwing (article by Diana Martin)

Axe throwing! Vikings, rape and pillage conjured up a picture in my mind. It was far less dramatic but tons of fun. Each person in turn was allowed to throw four axes at a blue painted piece of wood with four targets, in each corner. The axes had a square head each corner having a sharp point. After minimal instruction we were allowed to throw at the targets. I must say there is a knack, which gradually left me as the rounds continued, and the wood target had many more splinters by the time we had all finished. Another try next year? Yes please!!!! Meanwhile - I think my garden fence might suffer.
 
 


Clay pigeon shooting (article by Mike Booth)

To hit a clay seems so easy to do
Bang, missed, we’ve got a branch or two
They did come whizzing out quite fast
But Bang, hurray, hit one at last

Got another must be a fluke
18 in all we had to shoot
Hit 6 in total, not too bad
This could become more than a fad

(Next time I’ll keep my eyes open!)

Members also enjoyed horse riding, reverse steer driving, blindfold driving, Landrover driving and archery, as well as a BBQ in the sun and very pleasant surroundings.

Blue Peris (article by Margaret Warren)

Our brief was to recce the outdoor activity centre Blue Peris in North Wales and surrounding areas, staying next door in the bunk house aptly named White Peris; this is a self catering annexe with provision for up to twelve people.

The next day with the promise of good weather five of us, Tony, John, Cecil Alan and myself, plus our guide Liz equipped ourselves with wet water gear and headed for Anglesey in the mini bus. Peta, Anne, Grace and Jean took the car to see what other attractions else were available in the surrounding area. We arrived at a lovely little beach, donned our kit and headed for the rocks. Today we were to sea cliff traverse. This actually means getting down to the water line and cling to tiny bits of rock with your fingertips desperately feeling for the next little inch of rock that will provide a toe hole to enable you to move forward, this is done with one eye on the waves crashing behind you, scary stuff. Then when you reach an impassable piece of rock you have to improvise and swing round obstructions on a piece of rope. When there is just sheer rock face and no way over to the other side again you improvise, someone has to brave the water and on reaching the other side secure a rope for the others to either crawl along (Tyrolean crossing) or two ropes to enable them to half walk and half hang off (postman’s crossing). Both these methods require a very good sense of balance and strength; hence a few of us took a dip if only temporarily before being winched to safety by the rest of the group. Realizing the time we decided to head back along the cliff top. Liz had one more thing in store for us though for us though, abseiling down a cliff and crossing over to a small island, climbing up and jumping into the sea! I decided that I would become official photographer at this juncture to record the event and let them to get on with it. Liz was the first to take the plunge and one by one the men (with gritted teeth) followed her into the water only to surface with big grins on their faces, a perfect conclusion to the day’s experience.

Sunday morning again was the promise of a lovely day, the canoes and gear had been prepared the evening before to afford us an early start after a lovely full English breakfast. This time we headed to Rhosneigr, again in Anglesey and a little cove called Cable Bay. The canoes were carried to the waters edge and Liz instructed us on the finer points of canoeing, which was how to get out quickly should we overturn, at this point there were more than a few worried looks. One by one we left the beach and headed out over the surf ably assisted by Peta who gave us all a quick shove off as we were at that stage like beached whales, stranded. We went out to the shelter of some cliffs and receive more instruction and practise before a group of us took up the challenge and headed out of the bay to open sea and a distant headland. It was hard work at first but we soon got into a good rhythm and were powering along enjoying the thrill of just being there and doing it, Liz pointing out places of interest and wild life along the way. It was a rare treat to see cormorants and oyster catchers in their natural habitat. We had all but reached the headland when it was time to turn round as up ahead was a firing range, a no go area. The return journey was different with cross currents pulling you into the rocks; it was hard work to maintain a straight course but challenging. As we neared the shore Liz told us to catch a wave and paddle like fury, Tony and John made it safely; Alan having more experience did it several times just for the fun of it and I who had been busy chatting and had forgot to listen to Liz consequently ended upside down in the surf. Fortunately I had taken onboard the early info of how to get out of the canoe so no harm done just a dented ego. We rounded it off with an ice-cream before heading back to Dinorwic and lunch.

Sitting here Monday afternoon with every muscle in my body calling out I have to ask the question “Was it worth it?” the answer is a clear resounding “YES!” I would not have missed this experience for anything. It was challenging, yes, it pushed you to the limits, and more than you thought yourself capable of but the pay off was the sense of achievement, of doing something for real. This was not for the faint hearted; it was what real adventures are made of.

Hawk Flying (article by Ann Dodson)

Briar, Goldie, Wimboldon, Turnstile and wait for it, Barry. These were our feathered friends for the evening – Harris Hawks. Oh…. and not forgetting Terry the Tawny Eagle! They brought along one extremely enthusiastic owner – Steve - who was full of information and soon dispelled any idea that these are vicious creatures who will peck eyes out! A short talk on the do’s - keep calm if one tries to fly away and take your arm with it, and don’ts - no kissing and cuddling, they don’t like it! Actually don’t even look at the one you are holding, which is difficult, as one has a great urge to coo and stroke feathers. Now practice holding a coffee cup, but tuck your little finger in! – this is the position you have to hold your left arm in (a perch) and lastly on with the gauntlet. Five of us lined up, we were shown how to hide a piece of chicken in the right hand etc. etc. OK send Barry off, turn head to left to look at him, at the same time bringing hands together and transfer chicken to the hand with the gauntlet and wait for Barry to leisurely fly back, take chicken and perch on arm. Steve was expecting five beautifully synchronised hawks. Well…. they were not. Barry doesn’t ‘do’ leisurely flying especially when he is hungry. He swoops and was back almost before I’d had time to transfer the chicken to the left hand. In fact I’m not even sure it was Barry who came back to me. Steve didn’t tell us they would play musical arms and wasn’t overly impressed with the lack of synchronisation and total breakdown of communication between bird and human! However, he soon forgot as Goldie and her mate went AWOL. After chasing around the farmyard we tracked them down to a TREE. Obviously they preferred a branch to a human arm that tipped them off! Steve was loving it and when they swooped into the field after some prey or other he was practically ecstatic. They did come back eventually. What a fabulous evening, it just wasn’t long enough – I’m ready to sign up for a day. Some of us had a meal at the local pub and incorporated a leisurely tour of the country roads of South Northants on our way home. The road to the right was as elusive as a hawk up a tree!

Raft building (article by Campbell McNinch)
 
 

Sunday morning fine and sunny, made our booking, paid our money
Out at Grafham by the water, doing things we shouldn’t oughta
Here's the water, there’s the planks, take the blindfolds – MANY THANKS
Cups of water, or en masse, sorry folks can’t touch the grass.
Down the slope to upright pole, hollow centre, sides with holes.
Fill it up, try not to slop, tennis ball come out the top.
Lots of laughter, best fun yet, some unfortunately, very wet.
Then the rafts; drums, ropes and wood, bowline, hitches – very good.
Plan construction, launch the raft, paddle swiftly, we’re not daft.
Round the buoys and back to shore, one team won, then back for more.
Phew we’ve finished, picnic now, all are winners, take a bow.
Sun still shining, chewing buns, altogether good clean fun.

wherry good trip (article by Graham Mason)

A steel backed lady called ‘ Olive’ was our destiny on a Sunday in June at Wroxham. The weather forecast wasn’t good at our end but the weather on the Broads was superb, not too hot, but enough wind for good sailing.

After a long drive we arrived at the boathouse next to Barton House on the River Bure with our baggage, food and drink and met up with our lady skipper – Jane – who introduced us to Olive and gave us instructions on how things worked and told us what we were expected to do.

Olive is one of only a handful of remaining wherries which were built as pleasure craft for Edwardian ladies, this meant a smooth white painted carved hull with a white sail, a cabin with decent headroom and various sleeping cabins, Edwardian ladies were starting to partake in sport and this sort of sailing would have been considered ideal for them and no doubt gave a start to special sailing dresses. Olive being rather mature was starting to get a dowager hump so 2 tons of RSJ rolled steel joist replaced her keel and helped straighten her back most successfully. These pleasure wherrries are very different to the cargo vessels with their black hulls and brown sails. Having climbed aboard, it was time to cast off and get ourselves out of the dock into the river. As the men pushed Olive along and kept hold of the mooring ropes, Tony thought he’d try to walk on water, he got one foot wet before managing to prevent a total soaking and scrambling to safety.

We were informed of various skipper duties and we were ready to go using a very quiet electric motor. Under instructions we raised sail and made our way towards Wroxham Broad. With a good stiff breeze conditions were ideal.Graham took the tiller while Jane kept control of the sail and all points of sailing were covered whilst making our way towards Salthouse Broad where we aimed to anchor for lunch. Jane took over the tiller again whilst we got the sail down and grounded on the bottom at the edge of Salthouse. This gave us the chance to use the poles and quant ourselves into clear water before dropping anchor, time for lunch. Afterwards we all chilled out with several 50 plus-ers snoring away in the cabin (you know who you were). We found we had now drifted sideways and had to quant ourselves back into still water. On the way home Robert had a turn on the tiller and took a circuitous route around the Broad keeping clear of the Sailing Club and their dinghies. Having tacked and gybed and run before the wind we had used up our time and headed back to the mooring. Unfortunately we caught the sail rope in the trees and it took some tricky manoeuvrings, which entailed hanging off the boat and clinging to lifebelts, to get us out of a difficult situation, but we managed it. We could now motor to our moorings, tie up, back Olive in and unload all our baggage. At this point we found out that Olive was being put away in the boathouse, which meant putting the mast down. The skipper freed the mast by releasing a pin that allows the mast to pivot. It is so finely counter-balanced that very little effort is needed to move it. Then Olive was manhandled back into the boathouse and made fast, after which we made our happy way home.

Tales from the riverbank : Canal boat capers (article by Mary & John Wilson)

Twelve assorted club members arrived at Blisworth Boat Yard and loaded up to start our journey. After driving instructions were given we set off. The boat had to be turned round to start with as it was facing the wrong way. No trouble, we just bashed our way out hitting some poor innocent barge that was minding its own business. Ouch!

Tea, coffee, homemade biscuits and fruit were on the menu after we set off.

The Grand Union Junction came upon us with Campbell wanting to go the way of the locks, Anne popped her head up from below saying “Keep to the left, please”, so we had to make a quick turn and therefore avoid the locks.

Graham and Campbell did a great job on the steering apart from one minor mishap. All of a sudden cups were sliding off the table. Campbell thought everybody down stairs had lurched on to one side of the boat, but it turned out we were in shallow water and had ground to a halt on the bottom. Luckily we had a pole to push ourselves off.

We had a lovely lunch supplied by everyone (saving dessert for later) and paddled on our way again.

On the way back to base we did have a little argument with the bank again but no harm done.

The people on the other boats and banks were very friendly, it was a lovely way to spend a day. Our thanks go to Anne for organising a good trip, and to everyone who made it a great day.

Gliding (article by Margaret Warren)

Grace putting on her parachute We arrived at the Gransden airfield at around 6.00 pm along the way revelling in the gorgeous sunshine and beautiful Cambridgeshire countryside knowing that soon we would be up there with the birds. First we met the pilots and ground crews and were given a talk on the controls and how these big birds gain their power from the air above. We were shown how to put on a parachute and how to leave the cockpit should the need arise, we were assured this was just a precaution but knowing my luck it seemed like a good idea to listen very carefully.

Our method of launching was with a winch or should I say catapult. In theory you are yanked off the ground, except I had to be different. I got hauled down the grass runway and lifted up ok, but then we heard a big crack. Not being quite ‘au fait’ with what really should happen I was snapping happily away with my camera totally oblivious to the fact that we were heading downward, straight towards the clubhouse. "No problem," said my pilot "let's just hope we have enough runway" - great I thought, this is fun. Still after landing we manhandled the big bird round and pushed it back up the field with the help of a little buggy and a towrope. Back to square one, let’s try again. Fortunately this time we went up and up, the winch cable dropped away at the right juncture and we were flying with the birds - beautiful !

Now for the hairy bit. The pilot said “Let’s try the controls.” Oh dear, had I been listening earlier? Not sure: probably not. The controls were so surprisingly light, “Just a bit to the left, level off, nose up. Good, lets try that again to the right.” Oh dear! Here we go again, but it was just fine. All too soon with my pilot in full control we were heading back to make our approach and a very smooth landing. Great experience.

My previous knowledge of gliders had been very limited to say the least, for me they had been like white silent ghosts of the sky. I learned a lot and had a fantastic time, thanks to everyone concerned.

Street Rally (article by Jean Denton)

If the men in white coats had been in Rushden last Tuesday they would have had a field day. Fifteen of us were wandering round the town centre trying to solve Bob's and Campbell’s devious clues.  At the same time we were la la la-ing trying to put missing words to half-remembered songs. We knew the Monty Python one - sign of a miss-spent youth - but some of the others were far too difficult for our 50+ brains! Some poor, bewildered members of the public were pinned against a wall, Gestapo style, “YOU VILL ANSWER OUR QVESTIONS!”  Seems they were musicians but didn't know the answers either. By nine o'clock we were all back at Number 54, eager for our fish and chips, a drink and a natter, and the answers of course.  Another good evening hosted by Jacqy and Campbell.  Thanks folks!

Summer evening air display (article by Peta Jellis)

I have been going to the Shuttleworth Collection Air Displays for years, and this time, I was delighted to be accompanied by 10 members of the Club. The sun was shining, and there was a strong warm breeze. Lovely for picnics but no good for the Edwardian aircraft that were scheduled to fly, such as the Bleriot XI built in 1910 which stayed in the hangar. But there was an excellent parade of aircraft to entertain us and soon we were enjoying the acrobatics of a DHC Chipmunk and two 1930’s aircraft, the Gloster Gladiator and Hawker Hind. At the end of the programme a Hurricane and Spitfire also flew – a wonderful sight.

There was the usual competition of guess the height of a certain aircraft when it “waggled its wings” to win a flight in a Tiger Moth. I bought my £1 ticket and entered. They announced that the aircraft was flying at 720 feet. That’s what I put on my ticket! I HAVE WON! Oh, wait a minute – there are two people who put this height. My heart thumped and I held my breath. They did a draw and the winner is ….. THE OTHER WOMAN!! Oh, what a disappointment! Not even a consolation prize! Never mind – I am booked to fly Concorde in August, but I would have so much liked to fly in the Moth too! Could I be lucky next year, I wonder?

Summer Concert (article by Jacqy McNinch)


A beautiful evening: warm and balmy, ideal for listening to classical music in the open air.  The "nifty fifty balloons" on sticks were just the job and led all the stray members to our little corner near the stage.  Straightaway we set to with our individual tuck-ins, some even had the table, candles, serviettes and all the trimmings – such a treat.  At last the music started, slow at first, but you could have heard a pin drop which must have been gratifying for the musicians.  Over the evening the mood built up until the 1812 Overture as finale and the fabulous fireworks timed to perfection.  They were just wow!!!  We were all waving our little flags like the true Brits we are and loving every minute of it.  Shame when it finished and we trundled off to our cars and the long wait to exit.  But we were still humming.

Jet Ski (article by Linda Street)

jetski

A sunny evening and the APPL-JAM 7 met at Billing Aquadrome to add jet ski to their list of experiences.  We met up with Ian, our instructor.  At that point I must admit I personally forgot about jet skiing.  He was cute!  However, we changed into our wet suits and emerged from the changing room looking more like frogmen ready to dredge a river than the "jet setters".  However, Ian suggested we each have a solo turn for about 10 minutes to get used to the ski. Two at a time were out on the lake.  It was great.  We all got the hang of it.   For those who wanted, Ian later took us out individually for a 'fast' ride.  Pauline, the little devil, took to the jet ski immediately and zoomed around the lake and thoroughly became the 'professional' of the group.  Great time and very enjoyable.
After the event, at the suggestion of Peta, we all visited the
Virgin Health Gym at Riverside and had a look around.  A coffee and a snack ended the evening.  Lovely time spent with friends.
And now I hear you cry who or what is the APPL-JAM 7.
Well it's Anne K, Pauline, Peta, Linda, Jean, Ann D and Margaret = APPL-JAM 7.
Notice that not one man was amongst us!  Hee hee hee!



Paragliding (article by Pauline Ashby)

Adrenalin pumping – fight or flight.
Little legs running – as fast as they can.
Soaring like an eagle in a clear blue sky.
Floating like a leaf on the wind.
Diving like a hawk after prey.
Swooping like a swallow.
Drifting to the ground like a feather in the breeze.
THIS is paragliding.  As near to flying as a human can get.
A wonderful experience – what more can I say !!!!!



paraglide



White water rafting (article 1 by Tony Kightley)


We were 16 with 3 instructors who spit us into groups.  Each group picked up a raft and carried it towards the river and climbed aboard.  The instructors showed us how to turn the raft from left to right and move forwards and backwards using the paddles.  After a practice run we started for real down the rapids.  Our instructor we nicknamed “Psycho” and he assured us we wouldn’t get wet.
We set off down the course winding from one side to the other due to the pressure of the water flow.  Further down the course the water currents were moving against each other, which made the raft twist, turn and dip.  It was very exciting and a little scary.  Next time around the course the instructor made us jump into the water to acclimatise our bodies to the water temperature.  What we didn’t know was that he was intending to tip the raft over and drop us in the water at a later time.  He suggested we jumped in at the point where the currents were moving against each other to enable us to feel the pressure of the water. Then we jumped back onto the raft and continued down the course.  One of us went overboard but we picked him up and carried on.  Third time around another person went over the side (ME).
On the fourth run round the course we had a race, and our raft came 2nd. 
Afterwards we all changed back into dry clothes.  What an exciting challenge and one that everyone enjoyed.

White water rafting (article 2 by Carol Fenton)


When we reached the venue, we were kitted out in wet suits that had holes in quite inappropriate places!  And if you are as daft as me, you did not take anything with you, so I had to wear my bra and pants underneath.
We were then given a talk on safety and the dangers and pitfalls of how to sit in the boats which I am sure put the wind up everyone.  But when we got on the water it was brilliant.  The weather was boiling so we quite enjoyed getting wet – and boy: did we get WET!
The first couple of drops were quite gentle, but in the middle of the course we hit “the big one” which nearly tipped us all out.  Our guide and mentor, Alan, kept steering us into the white water head first and we got soaked, but it was an amazing feeling.
The main problem we had was co-ordination.  I doubt we ever managed to put the oars into the water at the same time.  On one round, we pulled into the side at the big waterfall and were invited to jump into the middle of it.  We all had a go: you jump and get whirled around and the water then stands you up again.  Fantastic!  Then we went on down the next drop where I fell out of the raft, but I still don’t know how!
I think we were all sorry when it was over.  I would go back again and again.  It was the best outing I have been on since I joined the Club.

Sailing at Grafham (article by Shelia Guilford)


There was a threatening cloud over Grafham Water, where nine of us had gathered to try our hand at sailing. We were introduced to Andy, Rob and Paul, our instructors; to our kit – only lifejackets as it was warm with only a light breeze (a perfect sailing day we later discovered); and to our boats. We started the day in large wooden, stable  boats which got us all reminiscing about the Swallows and Amazons. We split into two groups and spent the morning discovering tacks and gybes and sailing close to the wind! We all had a go at helming and handling the sails. We stayed out all morning, a highlight being the delivery of flasks of coffee and biscuits by powerboat. After lunch we were introduced to Wayfarers and a rather snazzy Laser Stratos, and what to do in less stable conditions. We began to feel like sailors, listening and reacting to the boat and the wind. Our crew had one hairy moment when I discovered what it felt like to be vertical rather than horizontal but our helmsman, Dennis, had been listening and knew exactly what to do so the dinghy swung back to my preferred position. When we looked up we found that two or three boats had capsized around us. We also had a go in the instructor’s speedboat where we discovered that Judy is a closet speedfreak! The cloud came to nothing, we had a great day and I think we all enjoyed it and learnt something. Let’s do it again.


Glen Miller Festival (article by Anne Kindleysides)


Lucky again with the elements, we were pleased to have a box for some shade rather than to keep us dry.
Twinwoods Arena near Clapham, Bedfordshire is on the site of Twinwoods Airfield infamous as the place from which Glen Miller began his last flight.
The festival was well underway when we arrived. There were American servicemen all over the place and even Germans in the woods.  Jean noticed that there were no private soldiers, only NCO’s and officers.  Many women had dressed up too in high heeled strappy shoes, gathered cotton dresses with short gloves and hats.  I thought many of them looked like my mother had on her wedding photos and was impressed to notice they even had appropriate rolled hair styles.  Stalls on the site tempted us with books, memorabilia, pictures and clothes.  Any one fancy a fox fur or even a pair of pink corsets?
Although we didn’t realise it at the time we were privileged to see Beryl Davis rehearsing with the Glen Miller Orchestra.  Later in the evening, we were impressed to see this tall blonde, who we guessed must be at least 80 give a great performance of some of the songs she first sang with Glen Miller in 1944.  
The evening events began with The Sunset Parade; the traditional lowering of the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes.
The music from the Glen Miller Orchestra, now in US Uniform, was terrific.  A dance floor had been provided near the orchestra and we were delighted to see the swinging jitter bug dances which were performed by members of the audience.   Mentioning no names, a pair of members joined in and I awarded them 9.5 points for artistic impression.
A really enjoyable and interesting event.

Canoeing (article by Heather Hewitt)


We took to the water in our canoes in sets of two people but also with a lashed together double one for those of us who felt less confident, and also to keep the important picnic food dry. Not that the instructors, Gary and Jenny, had any doubts about our capabilities, of course.
The first part of the trip was interesting.  Steering was a problem to begin with for some. The crew of one boat took it upon themselves to take a close view of the river- bank fairly regularly, especially where the anglers were, who had strange expressions on their faces at the unexpected visits.
The lock was quite an adventure.  Negotiating that with no key was tricky, but in true 50+ style - not impossible. We had the lock key, but no access to the little box to use it. Makeshift tools and safe breaking skills were less successful than hoped.  With a little flotilla of stranded canoes and a half closed lock gate, help arrived in the shape of a passing boat.  The occupants provided us with the necessary key and amid much banter and joviality it was time to grab the oars again.
Herons, ducks, swans and the occasional jumping fish accompanied us and apart from Linda’s fear of a repeat of the ducking she experienced last year in the wake of a passing boat and her squeals of “ Oh no, not another boat!” and Jenny our young instructress who was wary of swans saying “Oh no, not another swan!” we slid through the water with ease. Some were singing happily with the da,da,da,dah,da-da-da dah of the Hawaii Five 0 theme and a complete rendition of Hiawatha among other tunes, as we paddled our way to a pleasant spot on the riverbank for our BBQ.
The return trip was lovely and somewhat less zig-zaggy, as we were now all experts.
After a thoroughly enjoyable day gliding along the river in good company, a tired and happy troop headed home.


Vineyard Visit (article by Robert Wakefield)

I'm a 50+
And I'm OK
I sleep all night
And taste wine all day
I drink my wine
I eat my lunch
I go to the lavatory
On Sundays I go bussing
And I have chocolate cake for tea.
I drink more wine
I skip and jump
And visit grapes on the tree
I like to visit wineries
And meet some old friends like me
I drink more wine
The taste is fine
The banter just gets louder
Soon I'll just be a hiss pead
Just like the rest of them.


Observations of the visit
Why did Cecil prefer sample 4 + the other 3 samples and why did his table have an empty slop bucket at the end of the tasting?
Why did Diane take meticulous notes throughout and what happened to them?  Perhaps this was a ploy to drink more wine or possibly she had to report back to John as she had been allowed out on a binge alone.
Why did Pauline go red in the face after glass 3, was it the wine that tasted like ……?  Or perhaps it was that new larger “cup” size!
Is there any truth in the fact that Grace prefers red wine, German wines or is it just any wine?
Why did Anne have a very happy face after the 4th glass, she beamed from ear to ear?
All enjoyed a good visit and not one of us whined on the journey home. Mind you there was a sound of chinking bottles and zeds.

Longtown weekend – 12-14  September

Friday Evening:- Team Challenge (article by Jane and Dennis Tromans)


Check list: waterproofs, boots, Mars Bars, change of clothes, accident insurance policy – yes, we were ready for another 50+ adventure!  Our children had been to Longtown (several times) now it was our turn!  Sunshine and clear blue skies blessed us all the way to the Welsh border, excitement mounted with each mile and what a welcome we received.  After a hearty supper of Doris’s shepherd’s pie, all thoughts of a nice relaxing evening with a cup of cocoa went out of the window when we were instructed to report to the yard with wellies, waterproofs and torches.  Dennis was put in charge (he being the tallest and having the loudest voice), we divided into two teams and headed for the paddock (it was now completely dark).  One person in each team was blindfolded.  We were then given our instructions – on two pairs of “skis” (planks with attached lengths of rope) we were expected to “water-ski” over a shark-infested sea, transporting two barrels of water to goodness-knows where to do goodness know what.  Without question, like good little fifty-plussers, we did as we were told and, with Dennis shouting instructions from the front and Mike shouting instructions from the rear, we set off into the pitch-blackness.  What a good thing our families and friends back home couldn't’t see us, we would have been carried off in a white van.  After much hilarity and losing several lower limbs to the sharks, we arrived at a 6’ wall (well it looked like 6’).  Over we all went, some more gracefully than others and the water went as well.  Back onto the skis – whatever next?  Downhill was tricky, then we arrived at a long dark tunnel, just big enough for one person.  First went an empty barrel and then the rest of us, in turn, on our backs, carrying a container full of water, to fill it.  There was only one casualty and he stopped bleeding eventually.  Excellent teamwork ensured complete success and got us into the right spirit for the weekend.  Read on and find out what else happened  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Saturday:- Canoeing (article by Anne MacGovern)

canoe    
Relaxing on the Wye.


On Saturday, the 8 of us that opted for canoeing, plus our instructor Owen and a very new trainee, Lucy, set off for the Wye with our 4 craft on a trailer behind us.  It was a beautiful day – sunny and hot.  On arrival at our launch site we unloaded, donned our buoyancy aids and began our water adventure.  We spent about an hour learning how to work together and the most difficult part, to steer.  I found this particularly hard, but by the end of our practice had just about mastered it.  At lunchtime we picnicked in the sun whilst Owen drove the van to our final destination.  How did he get back?  He walked and hitched a lift!
Now we had the skills we set off.  What a way to spend an afternoon!  The sky was blue, buzzards were flying overhead and families of swans floated by.  In the distance we could hear our first little rapid.  The water was quite low due to lack of rain so the rocks were more a concern than the water, but Owen told us the angle to take and we all paddled through with no mishaps.  
In no time at all we were at the second rapid and journeys end.  We pulled into the bank for

instructions, at which point one lady member of the group decided to take a dip!  Well it was
very hot!!  Owen to the rescue and she quickly rejoined her fellow bemused crew and tackled the rapid.  Again no casualties but Peter and I did get perilously close to a huge tree root and then did a gentle pirouette – planned of course!    We were given the chance to tackle the rapid again but it meant beating the current first.  Two guys (and me) had a go but it proved quite a challenge and was only successful when Owen took my place.  
Thanks to Longtown – Owen and Lucy – for another great experience.     

Saturday:- Gorge Walking , Rock Climbing and Caving 1 (article by Tricia Booth)


How could we resist the chance to rock climb, gorge walk and do a bit of caving all in one day - NO WAY.  It was the most beautiful day as we set off into the Welsh countrysidewere rigged (Spiderman has nothing on the 50+ .  The ropes clubour trusty anchor crew and abseiled down which was by far the easiest ) so up the cliff we went with the aid of partthe wet weather clothes to walk the gorge and slide down the tube, the difficult part was reaching .  Next we put on itwhich we had to crawl behind .  After climbing boulders and getting fairly wet we went in search of the waterfall, with water pounding on our backsother side our only way back was to jump down into the .  Once we came out the deep pool below, which didn't look so high up from the other side.  Well you just have to jump when all your team mates are looking on and rope is at the ready to haul you out, plus, with a lifejacket on, you are sure to surface at some pointachievement I felt.  Dripping wet we set .  Yes, I finally plucked up the courage and jumped, what a great sense of off back to the centre for showers, tea and an evening walk.  Thank you all for a great weekend.

Saturday:- Gorge Walking , Rock Climbing and Caving 2 (article by Heather Hewitt)

gorge
Paddling for Grown-ups!


I used to have a fear of heights particularly on buildings and near cliffs and I was
also slightly claustrophobic, but I have conquered these fears thanks to the 50+ Club.  Confidence in the instructors, the safety equipment and the company of ordinary but like-minded people has allowed me to do things I never thought possible.
On this weekend at Longtown, I scaled a 50-foot rock face and also crawled up what seemed like a pitch-black wormhole inside the rocks.  It didn’t take many minutes to reach daylight but this would have been impossible for me to do at one time.  Then following the suggestion of our friendly instructors I even slid head first down another tunnel to be caught at the end by them and lowered gently to the ground.  The sense of achievement is amazing.
Dressed in protective wear, helmets and buoyancy aids, we followed that with gorge walking and in the most beautiful setting with brilliant sunshine dappling through the trees and sparkling on the water, we made our way up the gorge.  We clambered over rocks and fallen trees, helping each other along, getting gloriously wet and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.  The walk ended with a crawl along the middle ledge of a tiered waterfall and with the encouragement of the instructors, one by one we all simply jumped over the edge.  As we bobbed to the surface our smiles said it all.  What a great way to spend a day.

The walk  up a mountain to see the sunset and marvel at Mars glowing in the dark rounded off a perfect day.

Sunday:- On Site Challenges(article by Anne Kindleysides)


Sunday began with orienteering in the groundscompetition in which .  It was ‘Canoes’ against ‘Gorges’.  A friendly ‘which team this partisan was in?
Canoes’ finished first, but were robbed of victory by ‘Gorges’.  Guess Then it was down to the confidencethough the air we canoeists -building course and zip wire.  Whilst the gorgers flew tried out the loweach of us but we were really well supported by the -level assault course.  This was challenging for instructors and encouraged each other to complete the activities.  Particularly popular was the tree climbing using old tyres, the fall into the scrambling net and then along a high level walkway to descend by fireman’s pole.  This latter was a practice leap of faith for the shorter members of the team.

ladder
Teamwork.


After our picnic lunch we began the really challenging high pole and wire course.  John, Tony and Allan inspired us all by their teamwork in ascending Jacob’s ladder right to the top.  The climb to do the leap of faith was very popular too.  Later there was wall climbing and abseiling which Cecil achieved face down!  
We had a wonderful fun packed time.  The spirit of personal challenges met and the teamwork and encouragement in helping others to achieve was inspiring.  Thank you all for a great time.  Thanks too to Bob, Mike, Owen, and all the team for their care and instruction and a special mention for Doris who kept us stoked up with excellent food.  Roll on next year.


Water skiing (article by Steve Whitworth)

We arrived slightly early at Grendon Lakes on the edge of Grendon village, and motored down the quarter-mile lane to the Clubhouse. There were eight in total, all of us eager to get started. After selecting our wetsuits we attempted to pour ourselves into them (some easier than others). Penguins of various shapes waddled out of the changing rooms into the autumn sunshine.

Water-skiing was the first activity and six people made the attempt. The water was cold (no, it was very cold!) but not to be defeated we tried, some more successfully than others. After we had all had a turn Peta suggested that we should have some land tuition before a second try.

Some of us then had a further attempt on the lake and generally improved, Heather being the star of the show! After defrosting with tea, coffee and very nice bar snacks it was time for the ringos. These were great fun, everyone having a great intake of breath and water due to the open-mouthed screams and laughs. As it was almost 4.30pm we retired to the sanctuary of the changing rooms and lovely hot showers. Everyone said it was a very enjoyable afternoon and next year we will try to improve our performances.

Microlighting (article by Ann Ralley)

How could anyone believe they would wake up in the morning after a night of torrential rain and find a beautiful sunny, if a little windy, day. Well, on Sunday 5 Oct the ‘Microlighting Day’, we did. Not only a sunny day but a clear one too.

On arriving at the airstrip, there were the two Microlight planes together with a ‘fixed’ wing plane, to you and me that means a little two-seated plane. The Microlights looked like a huge colourful paper wing spread across a type of motorbike, only the engine was at the back, together with the propeller, so I made a mental note not to wear my long white scarf, at least not loosely flowing out behind me.

Each of us had a mini explanation of the Microlight showing us dials – engine things and air bar bits, fortunately for me I did not need to remember any of this as I had complete trust in my pilot. However, what I did remember was my pilot’s words of wisdom should we crash land? Should we what? Did my trust just fly off in another direction? In the case of a crash landing just be sure to keep one’s arms tucked in close to the body”. These words were spoken in such a relaxed way that my trust flew right back. Well, I kind of dragged it back.

We left the ground very quickly, and up, up and away we flew, absolutely incredible. Flying at 3,000 ft. the light wind made it a little bumpy, more or less just what I had expected really. However, what I did not expect was how still we became at 5,000 ft. It was as if we were just suspended in the air, high above the world in a beautiful clear sunny sky, seeing forever. Completely breathtaking and much different from looking at the view from a mountain top.

Our pilots made a special effort to fly each of us over our own homes; we could look down and see our town from an entirely different viewpoint. My pilot (who’s name I did not know because of my sheer excitement) pointed out so many views to me that happiness just spread deep into my soul.

This is an adventure to be repeated without a doubt, many thanks to our committee who keep this club together and many, many thanks to Peta for such a magnificent day.

Llama trekking (article by Peta Jellis)

I adore Spinach! No – not the vegetable. The “Spinach” I am talking about has 4 dainty legs, a soft, thick, cream coat, an elegantly long neck, lovely woolly ears and huge brown eyes with eyelashes to die for! And the best bit is that our heads were both at the same height so I could gaze into his eyes and believe that he understood every word of love that I uttered!

There were 10 members of the club taking Spinach, Crofter, Nappa, George, Rufus and Hector for a 4-mile walk on a lovely autumn morning near Towcester. The sun was shining, the trees were all shades of gold through to green, and the views were spectacular. Our llamas set the pace, including the unscheduled stops for a bit of juicy grass, or tempting leaves or when the lead llama had had enough of leading the trek. On the homeward stretch downhill, we were hanging onto their halters to stop them trotting away from us but mostly they were gentle, well-behaved and an absolute delight. During our walk, we learnt a lot about llamas - they don’t like their faces touched if you meet one – and we were particularly honoured to have Crofter, one of the stud llama’s walking with us who had won many first prizes in llama beauty competitions. Crofter had a soft brown coat, whilst Nappa was mostly black.

After our walk, we went to see the ladies of the herd and their 3-week old babies (the proper name for baby llamas is “cias” by the way), and then had a picnic. Walking in the countryside with Anne K will never seem quite the same again!

Cycling at Rutland Water (From our Australasian Correspondent - Val Sales)

When my sister Diane West invited me to join her Adventure Club on a cycle ride around Rutland Water, I readily agreed. Being used to cycling around the Swan River in Perth, W.A., I relished the warm breezes in my face and gentle suntan on my legs. The reality was quite different!

After donning multi layers of clothes and gloves (I’d never worn any since my youth) the novices hired bikes whilst the experts cycled into the distance navigating their way around the entire lake, to the highlight of the day – lunch at the “Noel Arms” in Whitwell.

The trip was not uneventful – circumnavigating the kangaroo poo, which Campbell assured me, belonged to the sheep – however, he also assured me that the wind would always be behind us. He lied! Both ways, we were never able to get higher than third gear, even had we known how to manoeuvre the 21 gears the bikes boasted!!

Our cameraman of the day, Dennis, shot past at frequent intervals to capture action pictures but on one occasion, when we required a group photo, a “handy passing person” (to be known as HPP for future excursions) was needed. Fortunately an exhausted lady cyclist was only too happy to take a snapshot whilst she regained her breath.

Lunch was excellent if a bit protracted – wonderful English fare – and the slowcoach bikers were worried they would incur a financial penalty for being late back at the bike hire.

The 50+ Adventure Club were fun people – encouraging the laggers (like me) – and gently recommending in a non-patronising way that we take a NVQ in gear changing! A super day for us – 14 in all hardy annuals – and such a pity I won’t be around for the next challenge!

EDEN PROJECT

Our Great Christmas Adventure in the Rainforest and Jungle (by By PA, AB, PB, AK, LM, DM, JM, LN, DT, JT, GR, HS, DW, JW, JW, MW, GW)

Our intrepid explorers were welcomed aboard their pink safari bus by Steve (complete with black safari hat!). Steve kept us awake with his considerable wit, wisdom and knowledge of the politically correct. Some hours later we reached Base Camp at Newquay. Here our discoveries begin when we found the camp adorned in glitter and tinsel:- they celebrate Christmas early in Cornwall. Indeed they had been doing so since September!

Setting out considerably after dawn the next morning, we travelled to the Garden of Eden. Here our dangerous trek began, travelling through the Maquis of the Mediterranean, California, South Africa and the High Chaparral. Very footsore we lunched under huge mechanical insects never before seen by humans. Then it was into the jungle by way of the banana boat to Malaysia, South America and the Caribbean. We then boarded our pink craft to partake of a local feast: scones, cream and jam served with tea, then back to base camp in time for Christmas Eve.

Next morning we received our gifts from Father Christmas before once more resuming our safari. Struggling through blazing sunshine and clear blue skies we set out in search of the Lost Gardens, which we found with great delight, some even had Cornish pasties for lunch. We then went to Mevagissey to enjoy “people watching” before returning to base camp for our Christmas Buffet.

Now we are sitting beneath the Christmas tree tasting some of the local beverages and as you will tell from the next paragraph none of these could possibly be alcoholic… and we write up our report to send back to mission headquarters.

With considerable hilarity we are being invaded by a band of natives:- Fred Flintstone, friars, nuns, tarts, cows, Indians, cowboys and of course a partridge in a pear tree. Also Elvis was here!

Thus we can report our expedition a success and the conclusions drawn from our investigations are illuminating: We’ve solved the mystery of Father Christmas. He can manage to get round the country in one night because he begins his journey in Newquay in October.

Ice skating (article by Jacqy McNinch)

Well, was that an experience not to be missed and I didn’t fall over once. However, due to my age and supposed frailty I felt I just couldn’t just go for it, so I was the one that clung to the sides never daring to go into the middle, although I did cut one corner and felt oh so brave.

Perhaps I should start from the beginning. We kicked off with some very useful coaching from a gorgeous young lady who must have been poured into her ski suit, whereas I looked more like Worzel Gummidge, put that vision on ice and you’ll get the picture. After half an hour she felt we were ready to go it alone and we were nearly all game. We had our own Torville and Dean in John and Mary Wilson looking very swish and expert, and lots of others who were very, very good for a first try. Cecil ended up whizzing round the rink, his style leaving something to be desired, but boy could he go. As far as I can ascertain the only one who came a cropper was Campbell in a corner of the rink, away from prying eyes which was just as well with his gammy leg, imagine Bambi on ice, with legs and arms going ‘which every way’. The children put us all to shame as they raced around fearlessly, so we let them have the middle of the rink while we stuck to the edge, well that’s my story.

After all our exertions we felt the need for a burger and a drink and a good de-briefing of our venture on ice. Fun all round, a brilliant night.

Drums - It Beats Working (article by Lynn Bennison)

Duum pah pah duum pah pah….or is it ….Pah pah duum pah pah duum pappadum pappdom? No way man, that wasn’t papadom, that was samosas we were eatin’ in the break Brake! 1,2,3,4,5 duum pah duum pah duum pah duum. Now let's hear the doun doun play while I resettle my legs around my djembe.

What an evening!

22 of us all with legs wrapped around a djembe and knees rubbed up against each other – good job we are all friends. Up came the sleeves, off came the rings and the watches and then out came all the worldly tensions of the day as we beat human flesh against the skin of a goat’s bum stretched across a wooden tube, table, toadstool sort of thing. Thump the middle of the skin with the palm of your hand and a low bong or duum sound lets rip. Slap the edge of the skin with your fingers and a higher note ‘pah’ resounds. Get it wrong and you make an odd noise as you bruise your hand with unmentionable pain!

Our teachers, Richard and Julie, showed us the African way to play drums. From Senegal they brought a tune called Zugalu for us to play. All very simple, but they usually teach children not unruly, single-minded, competitive adults – everyone of whom knew the tune – we just played it in a different order!

I am seriously glad I am not the Environmental Health Officer for East Northants or the Licensing Officer for the Crow Hill Community Centre – I think we were a tad loud! Perhaps Richard and Julie thought they’d better clear off before the neighbours descended so we packed up fairly early at 9.30 pm leaving a stalwart Anne Kindleysides to wait for the caretaker to lock up the Centre. Anne did a sterling job for us, organising the drums and teachers, arranging splendid refreshments, not to mention the washing up, and then ensuring everything was left securely. Sometimes we take our ‘fun’ for granted after we’ve paid our fees but on behalf of us all, ‘thank you’ Anne for arranging an evening of ear splitting, hand smarting, grinningly enjoyable fun.

London - Guided Walk (article by Anne Kindleysides)

Rain, Trains, Bridges, Churches, The City and a Gem

Each of the 31 members and friends who braved the rain in London on 23 November will have different impressions of our day. It was a day of contrasts : from the stark modernity of the glass Gherkin and the Pompidou-like stainless steel Lloyds of London buildings to the Victorian Gem of Leadenhall Market. There are little courtyards, hidden places among the concrete and granite of the modern financial heart of our country. The beautiful medieval churches dwarfed by it all and here and there a house surrounded by tall buildings.

The Tower Bridge and Dickensian walk were linked by Horace Jones, the city architect, who was responsible for the original design of Tower Bridge and also for the impressive glass roofed Leadenhall Market. The latter is painted in Christmas colours of red and green with plaster panels of fruit. It was lit with huge lantern-like lamps and also with sparkling Christmas lights in greenery. On a dull day in the late afternoon light it was beautiful.

Our visit to Tower Bridge was a fascinating insight into the construction and history of London’s most easterly Thames crossing. Despite the weather we had good views of The City, Tower of London and docklands from the upper walkways.

After lunch we set off for the afternoon walk: Dickens’ “Christmas Carol and Seasonal Traditions”. Our guide, Gillian Chadwick, who was beautifully in tune with our 50+ banter and fun, had an amazing fund of fact and myth to relate. She believes that the reason leading to Christmas becoming a festival of Goodwill was due to the impact on public opinion by “Christmas Carol”.

What a wealth of interesting information we were given: readings from the “Christmas Carol” in places known to Dickens and thought to be his locations for happenings in his book e.g. Leadenhall where the turkey was bought when Scrooge turned over a new leaf; The Royal Exchange believed to be the setting where Scrooge looked down on his contemporaries and saw how little concerned they were by reports of his death; St Olav’s, the church which was attended by Dickens on his visits to London and also the inn where he stayed.

On the lighter side we sang nursery rhymes and learned of their origins and related the three Millennium Projects: Dome, Bridge and Eye to male difficulties.

We learned that mince pie eating is illegal: - banned by Oliver Cromwell. This law was never repealed. He also decreed that Christmas Day was for religious observance and banned the formerly opulent celebrations. I was really attracted by mince pie stories! Little Jack Horner who was sent to London by his abbot to deliver the 12 property deeds from the abbey at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries. Only 11 deeds were delivered the other was the plum he pulled out of the Christmas Pie (mince pie).

We learned that many Christmas traditions hark back to the Roman festival of Saturnalia; a winter festival which looked forward to spring after the winter Solstice had passed. Buildings were decorated for the festival. Pantomimes are said to have their roots in this festival. At parties the Romans dressed in animal skins (pantomime horse) or in the clothes of the opposite sex (principal boy and dame). We also learned of the origins of “on the wagon”, “one for the road”, “dead ringer” and “humble pie”.

All in all our spirits were not dampened by the weather or by climbing and descending the same set of stairs at West Hampstead station over and over and over again! Our appetites were whetted for seeing more of London’s hidden places and hearing more interesting mixtures of fact and myth.

P.S. No mince pies this year or else!

 

Another AGM (article by Maggie Marr)

I joined 50+ in February 2003 and was excited by all the activities on offer, I ticked the boxes of all the events I wanted to attend but unfortunately before I had time to lick the stamp and post the forms I had broken my arm and so any thoughts of water rafting or any other adventure went out the window.

So, for the past year I have been a member in name only having not attended any events. I still received the newsletters and enjoyed reading all the reports from the members but just didn’t get round to booking any myself.

Then out of the blue I had a phone call from Jacqy asking me if there was a reason why I had never made an event. She explained about the ‘Buddy’ system and said if I wanted to attend the AGM she would meet me outside the Pemberton Centre so I didn’t have to go in on my own. Having been to many boring AGM’s in my life, the prospect of a new one to add to my list wasn’t something that filled me with delight but at least I would have made an effort and get to meet some members.

I met Jacqy outside and she introduced me to other members of the Club. I received a wonderful welcome and immediately felt comfortable and ‘at home’. Unlike the boring AGMs that I am used too, this one was peppered with humour from Campbell who turned the meeting into a fun evening. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the slide show of all the adventures that have taken place and finding out what new ones are to come in 2004.

Thank you Jacqy and Campbell and all the other members who made me so welcome. I promise that in 2004 I will make sure I get my booking forms in early and hope to see you at one of the exciting events planned.

 

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