Watch this site for a write up on what we did in 2005!

Tinsel and turkey - article by Linda Lawless

As a newcomer to 50+ Adventure Club, I had innocently come along to the Carriage House for the Tinsel and Turkey evening.  Little did I realise I was walking into a celebrity line-up.  I met Adam and Eve and Morecambe and Wise, and, if the rumours were true Posh and Becks may have been there too.  Guessing who you were talking to was a great way to start the evening, and to get everyone talking to each other.

Seating 36 people around one huge table was quite a feat but the staff at the
Carriage House were up to it and we enjoyed an excellent meal with plenty to choose from and fast efficient service.  The wine flowed and birthdays were celebrated.  But this was just the beginning …

The conversation went something like this: “It’s to do with horses, the pointy bit is for getting stones out of their hooves”.  A group of us were trying to decide what our mystery metal object was.  It turned out, much to our surprise, to be a knee replacement joint.  And there was more to come.  Two teams, two hip joints on pieces on string and a journey down dresses and down trouser legs, and the race was on.  The return journey up the trousers proved very challenging for some, but hilarious.

The fish I had at my meal served as brain food for the Christmas Carol quiz.  Our team won - mainly thanks to Doug.  Then after hectic musical chairs, we stepped into a “time warp” with ‘Agadoo’ and ‘Superman’ and some great old 60’s tunes.  It was a great evening, good food, good fun, and good friends, but my lasting memory will be of John dancing - what a mover!  John Travolta eat your heart out!

Ten Pin Bowling: 50+ Style (article by Jon Tuplin & Sandy Clifford)

10 pin
Arriving on time, unusual for us, on a cold wet and windy night in January. Panic set in as we thought, had we got the date or venue wrong!!!!! Phew, someone else is here, what a relief!
Thirty four eager participants, some we had never seen before.

Lanes nineteen to twenty four were our venue. Play started as soon as we managed to fathom the technology and put our names in, perhaps not in the order that was first required but off we go. We are all professional players so up went the runners to give us a hidden advantage. There were cheers and shouts of glee from some of the players others kept quiet as the bowl went astray and missed the skittles by a hair’s breath. I know that should have been a strike and not travelled down the rail to obscurity. In the first game there was three birds, two ducks and one turkey (for those of you that do not know what turkey is that is three strikes on the trot achieved by our first game winner). Allan (Lane 19) with a score of 138, in the ladies department Lynn's (Lane 24) inter city 125 was just passed by Ann's (Lane 20) 129.

The second game was quite intense the lanes were being broken by eager players. Grace, with too much haste, bowled her ball before the pins were set. Striking the protective guard with a resounding thud, the bowling ball rebounded and wedged in the gutter. Whoops never mind. Next game please. Most improved player in our opinion was Dave (Lane 23) who went from zero to hero when he started with a duck and finished on 116. Ann, top lady's player having found her lucky bowl, held it in her arms like a new borne babe until it let her down.  I wish I'd been down that much with a 141 to become runner up to Doug (Lane 21) who left it to the final bowl to retain his title for a second year. Will the ladies take the title next year? (Not if I get my way). Richard (Lane 21) - known to his friends as 'Dick' the highwayman - nearly stole second place but fell at the last hurdle with a 133. Better luck next time, Richard.

After such excitement we proceeded to our fast food feast reflecting on the evening’s events and what might have been!!! With bellies full and awards presented, it remains to state quite clear, that the biggest winner of the whole event, are the friends who sat at dinner.

A visit to the Peterborough Dogs (article by Lin Lonergan)

A group of the 50+ Adventure Club met up at the Pemberton Centre to embark upon a night at the dogs, each hoping, no doubt, to be returning a little richer. One member had been given a “red hot tip” (I'm given to understand) but no amount of persuasion could get them to divulge what it was.

Once at the track the group soon got into the atmosphere of the meeting and started making their selections either by studying the form card or picking the greyhound because they liked the sound of its name.

Each race the tension mounted and the cheering got louder: by the end of the meeting (13 races in all) and I am sure that some members were a little hoarse by this time. This may sound its a lot of races but they were just 15 minutes apart which gave you enough time to either get a drink, put another bet on or hopefully collect winnings from the previous race to add to the pile.

On the coach journey home there was much animation and I am sure I can speak for everyone that this was an evening enjoyed by all who attended. If this trip came up again I would certainly have my name down for it but would, now I know what 1 am doing, pick my selections a little differently.

Scuba diving at Bedford (article by Carol Brady)

Shrove Tuesday was not the best day for my introduction to Scuba diving, as the pancakes sat heavy before we donned the air tanks!!! 

Seven of us travelled to the pool in Bedford on a cold but clear night.  When we arrived, we went to collect our equipment and I was a little concerned to be told “slip your jacket off, I want to have a look at you”, before realising the instructor was assessing which size jacket I needed.!!!  We were given a jacket, which also had the tank attached to the back of it, a pair of flippers, 2 air tubes and a weight belt..  Heavy is the only way to describe the jacket , tank and belt, all of which  we put on, over our clothes, to carry  to the pool.

Once changed into cossie/T.Shirt we then put the whole think back on again.  My instructor described what the tubes were for, how to put air into the jacket while diving to help raise me to the surface or expel air to dive down. The explanation, together with the necessary hand signals to learn, so we could communicate once diving, were easy.  The most difficult of all was getting to grips with the flippers once I was in the water.  Your feet seem to treble in size!!!

Once I concentrated on only breathing through my mouth, we set off swimming lengths of the pool.  Towards the end of the session we swum into the 3 metre deep pool.   At the end of the session we took off all of our kit, showered  and dressed.  However the evening was not yet over as we had to put on the whole kit, over our dry clothes, to take it back to the store and obviously everything was soaking wet!!!  Sorry Peta for the wet back and bum in your car.  But a very enjoyable evening and one to be repeated, for me.

Tobogganing (article by Allan Bailey)

On Saturday evening twenty three of us turned up at the Xscape Snow-dome in Milton Keynes to go tobogganing. We all put on warm clothing, crash helmets and collected a toboggan. The toboggan was a plastic thing with handles about 12" square and nearly big enough to sit on. We were given the mandatory safety instructions, then we all eagerly climbed to the top of the snow slope, sat on our trays and slid down the slope. As I slid ever faster down the hill, snow flying up into my face, fifty years of my life slipped away and I felt like a child again. After half an hour of climbing the hill and sliding down again we were all exhausted and ready for our meal together. A great night out and a great experience.

Go-Karting (article by Campbell McNinch)

Karting 05
23 novices, very keen to learn.
How to drive a go-kart, round the track we’ll burn.
Freezing cold outdoors, glad to go inside.
No warmer in there, from cold we could have died.
Tracksuits on, Safety talk, Practise laps three.
(Who brought his own helmet? His form we’ll have to see)
Starting order, check the list, over to the grid,
Find your kart, settle in, staring through your “lid”,
Red to Green, foot hard down, try to gain a place,
Down the straight, round the corner, what a crazy race!
Bump behind you, little slide, barrier here I come.
No reverse, hand aloft, Stewards at a run.
Back in business, speeding up, I’ll catch them somehow
Suddenly, chequered flag, Heat is over now!
Check the Telly, results are there, who’s the fastest lap?
Suddenly, you’re on again, no time for a nap.
Five heats over, anxious wait, semi line-up on the screen,
Three races, first two in each in the Final will be seen.
Hard luck stories, sticking pedals, excuses they abound,
Six racers, final time, six times the track around.
Favourite’s off, flying start, looks a different class.
I’m in second, nowhere near, only saw his ****.
Well done, Nigel. Six first places and the fastest lap,
Victory circuit, flying flag, everybody clap.
Presentation, plastic trophies, Champagne there was none.
Never mind, fun-filled day, everybody won.

The true cost of Karting (article by Nigel Cross)

Now that I am getting more into the spirit of the Adventure Club, I had a lift from my home to the Pemberton Centre (pulse rate normal); and then on to the venue (pulse jumped twice). I took my own helmet on hygiene grounds provoking a few wry comments and enquiries as to how many times I’d karted before (twice, over five years ago).

The owner got us into fire retardant overalls and then talked about what NOT to do. This only gave a few people ideas. The karts had no gears just a centripetal clutch so its right foot throttle, left foot brake like an automatic car. The pedals have two positions for little and big feet. In the practice I was told off for pressing both pedals at once and it took ages to cure myself.

We were called my name for the heats and there was plenty to do in between: tea & coffee; watching the racing; seeing the results come up on the excellent automatic timing and nervous bladder emptying.
Three lads courteously helped us into our machines and checked helmet straps and visors. There were seat and back cushions for those who asked. Karts are uncomfortable and the faster you go, the bigger bruises you receive just from cornering - never mind about getting rammed, Pauline. The gloves provided absorbed most of the shocks from the wheel and the steering linkage rubs the backs of ones calves but once the flag drops all this is forgotten and the engines drown out the ladies’ shouting and cursing. I think that I was fortunate in that I was towards the back of the grids for the early heats when the less brave were finding their way and I was able to pass. Later on passing became harder and I saw the NO WEAVING sign displayed at someone. The helmet masked his identity.

Racing is hungry work and I had already eaten my emergency chocolate bar when I enquired at the Servery about serious food. Piping hot tea, beef burger and chips were put on the counter for me as I stepped off the bridge straight after a heat. Really good service and value at three pounds something.
The helpers spotted a dark stain on someone’s overalls which was diagnosed as fuel rather than incontinence and fresh ones were swiftly provided. By now my back was really hurting and I had to lie on the floor and pull a few bones back in place, then rub a bruise better myself as there were no volunteers.

For the final I found myself in pole position. I’m told it was a very boring race to watch but I was concentrating on trying to reduce my lap time despite twisting my neck looking round for the next kart. For the victory lap I was encumbered with a flag and the pit lads were very complimentary when I gave it back. Apparently we are among the best behaved groups on the track. I struggled to get on the podium while those already there laughed. I was pleased to be driven home in style and two weeks later my body has restored itself but at what price? I wonder.

Line Dancing (poem by Pauline Ashby)

Hi-de-hi and Ho-de ho.
In a line and off we go.
Right is wrong and left is right,
I cannot cope,Oh what a sight!
With faces grim we concentrate.
I’m the wrong way round,
Oh, what a plight.

Doug and Lil we love to watch,
But I can't do this, Oh what a botch
No, honestly, it's not that bad
Glad I went? yes, very glad.

Orienteering (article by Paul Rogers)

orienteering My first outing with the 50+ Adventure Club.  A cool, misty Sunday morning found me picking up 2 other Adventurers, both I might add, experienced walkers.  Would I be able to keep up with them, I wondered?  The previous week I had purchased a pair of walking boots.  After wearing them around the house I had exchanged them for another pair, 2 days before the event.  Orienteering seemed a good way of breaking them in.

Arriving at the venue - Brixworth Country Park - we were soon among approximately 38 other people preparing for the event.  Having split into groups of 3 and 4, we arrived at the starting point.  Numbered points were copied onto a map from a master.  An explanation was given on how to find and calculate each number and letter, then we were off - 3 ladies and myself!  The whole exercise was against the clock so it was a race to find the first number and the appropriate letter and calculate the next number.  The letters found at each point were entered onto a chart and once all these were in place, formed an anagram.  A clue to the anagram was also given.  Once solved, it was back to the starting point.  The whole exercise was repeated again using a different sheet and slightly more difficult calculations.

Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves.  Imagine my surprise when our group came in the first three!    Well, I managed to keep up with the ladies - and the boots? They were just fine! Thank you Grace for a most enjoyable morning.

Desborough Street Rally  (article by Mike Howorth)

On a coldish Tuesday evening, 21 of us gathered at Mike Booth’s house in Desborough for what was promised to be a “fiendish street rally” followed by a fish and chip supper.

Teams were formed as people arrived and team names invented. Seven teams were formed and went out into the wilds of Desborough armed with a quiz sheet and pen. Each team was given one hour to make their way round Desborough answering the questions set by Mike. My team (The Leg-Stretchers) consisted of Janet, Mike and myself and we were the first team out. As the evening progressed and we made our way around the town some of the other teams caught and overtook us. We continued to look for the answers and did not concern ourselves unduly with the other teams’ progress.

After completing the course we arrived back at Mike’s house for deserved liquid refreshments most of which were hot to try and thaw us out after the weather had turned colder as the evening progressed. The quiz sheets were checked and marked whilst we waited for the fish supper to arrive. The teams discussed answers and agreed or argued about the answers given.  The food arrived and was just what was needed to finish off the evening. After the food was consumed the answers were announced by the organisers. To our surprise our team were declared as winners.

Our thanks must go to Mike Booth for his organising of the event and his hospitality throughout the evening. A good time had by all and I look forward to the next event I am able to attend.

Derbyshire walk (article by Joy King)

group   On a very early cold Sunday morning fourteen 50+ keen ramblers climb into a minibus bound for an eight mile walk in Derbyshire.  Various questions are heard – Will we be warm enough? Will it rain? Will the new boots get muddy? Who will carry me if I get too weary?
After arriving and donning boots and backpacks we are given a brief description of the walk complete with map (brief panic ensues but the map is for interest only – no map reading skills necessary).   As we set off the day is already getting brighter and we are soon enjoying the wonderful scenery.  Walking at a leisurely pace and stopping to admire a lone orchid and listening to bird song, we made our way through Biggindale and on to Wolfscote dale.  A pause to allow Dennis to take a group photograph as he balanced precariously on a rock in the river and then a steep climb followed by a drinks stop to admire the view (an excuse to get our breath back).  The lunchbreak stop at the George pub in Alstonefield gave us the opportunity to have a welcome drink as we ate our lunch in the warm sunshine. We began our journey back through Narrowdale, passing Wolfscote Hill and just enjoying the beautiful countryside, so different from our own county and yet just an hour away.  This area, although very close to the ever popular Dove Dale is much quieter and we meet just a few fellow walkers and some friendly dogs.

 Back at the car-park boots are quickly removed and then just time to enjoy a large ice-cream before making our way home.    Great views, sunshine and good company made this a day to remember.  Thanks to Jane and Dennis Tromans for researching, driving and leading  this walk


Mini Diggers (article by Linda Street)  

Once again it was ‘annual adrenaline rush time’ to drive the mini digger!  The weather was sunny, windy, sunny, rainy, windy and so forth………………Several minutes of instruction to use the levers (up, down, forward, backwards, scoop, tilt).  Having got the gist of the manoeuvres, we were allowed to solo scoop and deposit earth in the truck and then drive the truck to deposit the soil in an allocated place in the field.  Great powerful feeling!  I waited for the others to finish.  When it was my turn, the weather had also changed and skies turned black and the rain and wind showed their force.    However, I was okay sitting in the cab dry and out of wind’s way.  Poor Yvonne and Cecil were out in the field getting soaked watching me. Hee hee  Thank you both for your perseverance!  I hear that the other team of Lyn, Christine and Graham had fun too.

Picture: Quads and Off-Road driving.
off road
Sheds and the Building of (article by Caroline Cordozo)

What can five girls in a hail storm achieve in 32.40 minutes armed only with a handful of dowels and some timber slats? Well! In a state of confident disorganization, and a little prompting from Pauline, we five erected a shed to be proud of, complete with window and door and not a blackened thumb in sight. Move over Tommy Walsh – Girl Power Reigns.

Horse-riding (article by Peta Jellis)

The thing about being on horseback is that you are a long way off the ground and the horse knows that you are a novice, so will only do what it wants to do!  This is the second time I have ridden JH, and each time he has shown who is in charge!  I begged, I pleaded, I kicked him (but gently) to trot - no way!  But eventually, we did go for a nice walk around the farm and along a stream and kidded ourselves that this was the way to travel!  Maybe next year, I will bring a packet of Polos - I didn’t try bribery!!!

Blindfold Driving (article by Jacqy McNinch)

This is the second time I have taken part in this event and unlike most things I don’t improve with practice.  To be fair the course has changed so any advantage I could have gained over the same terrain was scotched immediately.  But I’m a ‘game old bird’ and I love laughing, so this one event more than anything is a must for me.  I think I hit trees, carried cones, reversed, careered downhill towards the river and probably took the longest time, but it was the most fun.  Roll on next year.

Picture: Clay Shooting - another activity enjoyed during the day.
Quad Bikes (article by Jacqy McNinch)

I’m a scaredy-cat really and the bikes I find a great challenge.  In fact it took me 15 minutes to sit comfortably and feel in charge of the bike not the other way round.  In the end I was soaring over mountaintops and plunging down valleys with the biggest adrenalin rush since last year’s bike ride.
I later found out that one of our members felt sufficiently confident to perform a rear somersault with the quad bike and then take it swimming, but we were relieved to hear no major damage was caused (to the member or the bike) and the hero of the hour to put the bike to rights and the rider was none other than my better half.

WAENDEL WALK SATURDAY 14TH MAY 2005 (article by Josephine Pettifer)

I chose the Waendel Walk as my first venture with the 50+ Club, owing to the location just 10 minutes walk from my home.  The day was beautiful, blue skies a light wind. We met at the Castle Theatre, everyone made me feel very welcome, and off we set at 10-30 a.m. for a 6 mile stroll along the Nene Valley, across the fields up the hill from Wollaston Mill to Great Doddington.

The view from the top of the hill was lovely a truly English pastoral scene: sheep a few trees, the beautiful green of the grass, with the river in the valley. Then on to the Stags Heads. Crowds of people here, taking refreshments and getting their cards stamped. We joined them and went inside for some light refreshment before continuing along to the Garden Centre. Then returning to the Castle via the park to the sound of Bag Pipes, not a welcome but a Scottish wedding in progress. We all met up at the end to get cards stamped again and visit the Continental Market on the car park at the rear of the Castle.  A good day was had by all and a sum of money raised for charity. Thanks to all for making me so welcome. Looking forward to my next venture.

Weekend Trip to River Wye Friday 20 May – Sunday 22 May (article by Lucy Oliver-Carton)

wye I arrived at The Boat Inn Whitney in the evening sunshine with Paul (who had kindly offered to car share) via a pleasant sojourn to Warwick Castle and Stratford-upon-Avon.  Fellow campers soon arrived and we had much mirth on checking the facilities as there were three showerheads in a small cubicle and we considered how cosy it might be!

After setting up camp we all duly repaired to the restaurant, which had been beautifully set overlooking the river with wonderful views of the distant mountains and the setting sun. We enjoyed an excellent meal from the extensive menu with copious amounts of drinks interspersed with jolly conversation.

Saturday, after a delicious breakfast expertly cooked by Pam, and ably assisted by other members of the group, we set off in an excited and expectant mood to Glasbury to collect the canoes.  After donning buoyancy aids and collecting drums for our 'stuff' we were launched into the river. It was to prove to be a great Adventure.  After a couple of early mishaps we meandered downstream for 5 miles enjoying the unusual flora and fauna from a totally different perspective.  Our idyll was short lived, for shortly after a lovely lunch stop the weather changed dramatically and we experienced 'serious' rain and lightening.  With pockets full of water and safari hat floating in an increasing amount of water in the bottom of the canoe we paddled on – faster!  We were just congratulating ourselves on an 11 mile accident free day when, just as we were hauling the canoes out of the water, Cecil over balanced and landed in the drink.  After a hot shower and a few drinks he was fine.

The sun re-appeared just as we returned to the campsite so we comforted ourselves with a glass of wine, which rapidly escalated to three bottles as we all squashed into Jane and Dennis's tent.  After much jolly chat and laughter we repaired to the Inn for another wonderful dinner in excellent company.

Sunday dawned with bright sunshine at 5.00 am. After another superb breakfast we went to launch our canoes and set off down the river in a gentle breeze a little more expertly than yesterday. We negotiated a few tricky obstacles, but Granddad (alias Cecil) and Terry were to come adrift when their red canoe overturned as they misjudged a passage way through a row of rocks. Terry managed to sit astride the overturned canoe but Cecil was deposited unceremoniously into the turbulent water.  He quickly recovered with much good grace at our imminent lunch stop.  We then managed an uneventful return to our base and congratulated ourselves on a wonderfully exciting weekend.

A tribute to Nigel who joined us in his kayak on Saturday and for tirelessly paddling and checking on stragglers and those in difficulties.  A big thank you to Pam for superb organisation and to everyone in the 50+ Club for their help, expertise and camaraderie, which contributed to a wonderful weekend.

Just Messing About on the River (article by Pauline and Fred Steel)

canoe nene We put on our crash helmets and life jackets and after a few minutes tuition on land we got into our canoes (no easy task).  After a few collisions and much laugher we all managed to head in the right direction.  I'm not sure how we managed to get in and out of our canoes twice without falling in but we did.  I was mortified when I saw the depth of the water after we had hauled our canoes over to another stretch of water. I thought it was rather shallow for two generous sized people, to say the least, but other canoes had gone before us and managed OK.  But we became 'beached' straight away, and poor 'Uncle Nev' had to pull us into deeper water. It was the first time I wish we had taken Peta's advice when she said it was not a good idea for married couples to share a canoe!  But we all thoroughly enjoyed it and had a wonderful morning.

Gliding (article by Pauline Steel)

I eagerly sent my cheque off for Gliding as I had heard what a wonderful experience it is.  But as the big day drew nearer I was becoming rather anxious. On THE morning I was desperately hoping for the event to be rained off (it was not to be).  It was the perfect evening for Gliding.  We arrived at the airfield, the instructor showed us the controls - but my only concern was being able to operate to 'D' ring on the parachute.  The time came for the first person to take off.  She not only looked very calm, she was smiling as the light aircraft towed the Glider off into the distance.  I eagerly awaited for her return to gauge for signs of trauma.  But no - there were no signs of distress - she had really enjoyed it and would like to do it again.  My time came.  Weak knees, dry throat I hauled on the parachute (with a bit of help) and got into the Glider.  The plane took up the slack, and before long we were soaring over the beautiful countryside.  The pilot really put me at ease, and pointed out all the land marks.  It was like floating over a pretty model village, canal and patchwork of fields - so calm and peaceful.  All too soon it was time to head back to the airfield and a perfect landing.  The evening was rounded up with a very nice meal and very good company.

Gliding (article by Jon Tuplin)

After a pleasant drive through the country lanes avoiding a young fox in the middle of the road, we arrived at Sibbertoft Airfield at 17.45 hrs. Then the convoy of 50+’s followed one of the pilots to the three aircraft awaiting our arrival. With temporary membership form in hand, the thirteen of us booked in with the flight controller, followed by a brief but informative explanation of the glider. Only when it came to the operation of the parachute did some member’s faces drop. Pilot and passenger in the cockpit, towline firmly attached the plane, the glider was pulled into the air. At two thousand feet the tow is released and the gilder climbs turning left. As the glider levels out the pilot says you have control.  I have control!  Oh boy - I’m flying a glider!  We followed the A 14 towards the M1/M6 junction, making a right turn to the Grand Union Canal. Then over Stanford House and reservoir before making the turn for home and handing control back to the pilot for the final decent to terra firma. What a fantast experience. There was not one of us that did not enjoy the 20-minute fight and were longing to go again. Not only did Graham organise a fantastic event but he made sure the weather was perfect too.

Canal Experience (article by Linda Vickerman)

Up early, watered greenhouses … a hot day is forecast!  Packed box of fruit (survival rations) also sun hat, sun specs and sun cream! Off to Market Harborough to find Union Wharf … surprise, surprise we found it straight away.  Two car loads had arrived and another quickly followed. Off to find our boat, it was not quite as roomy as I imagined but 12 intrepid sailors and enough food and drink for a week fitted in nicely!

First we were given instructions how to start, stop and steer but when hatches for removing weed were pointed out and technical info about the engine was given most of us began to look glazed and checked out the seating, the loo and galley facilities!

Off we set up the Grand Union Canal towards Foxton locks, it was narrow and a bit overgrown at first but there were some lovely houses and garden sweeping down to the water …Perhaps when I win the Lottery!!! The weather was superb, not much traffic and the views of the bridges reflected on the canal were beautiful. We spotted moorhens, coots, mallard ducks with dozens of babies (Aahhh!), dragonflies, damsel flies and lots of unidentifiable little birds ! It was quite idyllic!

Our first challenge was to make a cup of coffee and eat a slice of melon, the second was the swingbridge which we negotiated with great aplomb. We were all slowly taking turns at the helm with varied success!  Some went straight up the canal and some straight into the bank and reeds!! We arrived at Foxton Locks at lunch time and after much discussion, going round in circles, and mooring in the wrong place we found a spot to stop for lunch.  Wow how would we eat all that?!  But we gritted our teeth and manfully (and womanfully!) almost cleared the table helped with a few glasses of wine! What a lovely meal, it made sitting on the bank in the sun amongst the thistles most enjoyable!

Then we explored the locks (and the pub loo!) some went right to the top but others walked around the bridges, it just got hotter and hotter! So we set off again to find some cooling breezes.  By now nearly everyone had taken the helm, Linda to zig zag and scrape the bridge and Cecil to get stuck in the mud and Denise perform some topiary on the overhanging trees!!

The last of the bread was thrown to the ducks who ignored it and we arrived back at the wharf safely, galley ship shape, bags packed, most of the food and wine consumed all feeling happy and relaxed after a great day out in great company !

Many thanks to Grace for her hard work!

P.S. If any one can give a good home to 3 dozen packets of crisps please see Cecil!!

GO-APE (Ode by Jane Tromans)

They flew thro’ the air with the greatest of ease
Those daring club members on a flying trapeze
They trembled, they shook, then said “what the heck”
And jumped into space (without hitting the deck)   

They “Tarzanned”, they “stirruped” (some suspended in space)
The joy of achievement on everyone’s face
The final zip wire – the highest of all
But tackled with ease - they were having a ball

A few bruises perhaps and a blister or three
They emerged from the forest and went for some tea
go ape

GO-APE (article by Anne Warren)

Sunday, 26 June and for my first “adventure” with the 50+, I had chosen to “Go-Ape” in Thetford Forest.  Around 12 of us were booked for the course whilst a smaller group had planned to walk the forest trails and Lucy to explore by cycle.  The day began overcast, but this was a welcome respite from the intense heat of the previous few days.  By 11 am start time, the temperature was ideal for what was to be an exhilarating but strenuous morning. 

Safety precautions and procedures explained, it was time to take to the heights - not too high to start (some might say).  The first challenge was a short, but nonetheless nerve-racking leap from the platform to a cargo net, safely achieved after much encouragement and support from Tony and Bryan.  Zip wires, rope and stirrup bridges and other exciting challenges followed, each one becoming higher and of greater distance, some more scary and physically demanding than others.  At times one wondered whether we would make it to the end but the camaraderie of the group, and support of those who had undertaken the course the previous year, saw us all safely to the bottom of the final zip wire and to the comments (all taken in good part) from Tony, Dennis and Bryan about our ungainly landings. 

By 2.30 we were all back from our various events and met at the picnic area for lunch - much needed and deserved.  Post mortems regarding the course over, it was time for most of us to head for home.  However, Jane and Dennis had other ideas and endless energy, and headed off for the trails on their cycles.   Bruises and aches aside, this was a fantastic experience.  Who knows, perhaps next year might see us all return to Thetford.  Many thanks to Tony, Bryan and Dennis for their support throughout the course; to the good company and to Jane for organising the event.

Tandem Parascending in Surrey (article by Nigel Cross)

paraglide Everybody should do this once. It is the purest form of flying as there is no apparent means of support. I just swung about with the canopy far above me and then dropped gently to the ground. There was no wind noise and little draught either.  To achieve this utopian state all I did was pay; ‘phone at 7:30am to check; drive 110 miles; strap myself to a perfect stranger and finally jog down a steep slope with him. My flight lasted about 63 seconds.

It’s a new sport and really only possible due to modern materials and techniques. The canopy has two layers of nylon which fill with air to make an aerofoil section and provide lift. The harness includes two thigh straps and a seat so you are sitting comfortably in flight but the latter stops you running properly. Launching is tricky as you need to have some speed but when the wing lifts your feet leave the ground! Landing was simple enough as the canopy collapsed instantly.

There were about seven solo parascenders jumping off and then walking back up swathed in their 1500 canopies. Some had parachutes in their back packs but there were no thermals that day and so no chance of flying high or for any length of time. The promotional video I watched was exciting but all taken in much hillier, sunnier foreign climes.  Parascending is very weather dependent as wind, but not too much wind is needed in a direction which will cause an up draught against the scarp of the down and any rain would make the canopy too heavy. The regulars said that half the time there was no flying and it was the tenth time one of our group had tried to use his 49th birthday gift. He was now 50 and could have joined us for a subsidized flight.

Once landed we each got a lift back up in a rare, four wheel drive Transit van, thus I achieved a long held personal ambition. Overall a lovely experience to cherish. Incidentally this is the only Adventure Club event that has caused concern from my children. “Where’s your will, Dad?”

Editor’s Note: Now you have read what a fantastic experience this was, not all the places for this event were taken up, so if you wanted to book but found that the date clashed with your holiday or other arrangements and could not go, please contact Peta Jellis who will try to co-ordinate flyers.  We have 4 pre-paid flights left which we must use up before 1 November and we are happy to sell these places to non-members.  Price remains at 42.50 (if you booked directly with The Green Dragons it would cost you 79!!!). You can fly mid-week if you would prefer. 

Punting on the Cam (article by Peta Jellis)

punting “Armed with a questionnaire and map teams of up to 5 people scour Cambridge collecting answers to clues, some of which are painfully cryptic. The treasure hunt is split into walking and punting stages; each team punts itself, as learning to navigate is very much part of the fun!”  That’s what the publicity said and 28 Club members certainly had the fun promised.

The weather was hot and Cambridge vibrant!   The quiz was broken down to questions which could only be answered from the Cam whilst others had to be answered on foot.  Armed with a clipboard, 3 teams started walking, whilst the other 3 teams tried their hands at Punting on a very busy River Cam!  The plan was to swap boats at the far end of The Backs and then to see who got the most right (or imaginative) answers.  The best clues were in the Pub where refreshments were taken!

As the teams swapped over, Jim Bennison declared he had never done anything so frightening in his life as to try to Punt!  He didn’t fall in but was very pleased when Bob Wakefield took over from him and showed him how to do the job!  Peta’s team needed someone who could punt but rejected the idea of paying a professional - we are an adventure club after all.  Instead, they kidnapped Paul Rogers from another team, who did an excellent job.  He was ably assisted by Heather who only had one scary encounter with a tree where she was one side of the branch whilst the pole was the other side of it. 

The final results were:   Pretty Punters 5.5; The Useless Five 6, The Deficient Initiatives 7, Peta’s Team 8, The 3 Js 10 and the winning team Steve Whitworth & Campbell McNinch 14.5!  The winning team got extra points for Jacqy’s excellent re-design of King’s College complete with multi-story car park, a Starbuck’s coffee bar and an anchoring point for visiting Zeppelins!  See what I mean about the clues?

JET SKI (article by Steph Jordan )

On a scorching Sunday what better prospect to look forward to than an afternoon in good company jet skiing.  Billing Aquadrome was our venue and had the added benefit of hosting a land rover show that day

Once all were assembled our instructor who had been eagle eyed enough to steer everyone clear of the bar took us through the rules and operation of the bikes simply and clearly   “Keep between the orange and white markers, drive anti clockwise, keep your distance, green button start, red button stop and watch for signals from the stewards”   simplicity itself.  Safety helmets and buoyancy jackets were issued but thankfully all agreed to dispense with wet suits as it was so hot.

After mastering the mounting technique (a bit like vaulting on a horse from the rear without the worry of being kicked) off we set, those with some previous experience carrying the novices as pillion to instil confidence.  A steady start soon gave way to full throttle as the stability of the bikes became evident. Whoops of delight went up as we skewed over the wake of other jet ski users and enjoyed the ensuing spray thrown UP.  Back to shore to dismount for rest and refreshment whilst the second group had their turn then back to the skis with novices at the helm, all quickly showed they had mastered the art even though one or two marker buoys had some close encounters.

All agreed it had been a thoroughly enjoyable experience so many thanks to Pauline and the team for organising it

Green Bowling (article by Paul Rogers)

At the last meeting at the “Ock & Dough”, possibly after a few drinks, I found myself agreeing to make up the numbers to 24 (6 teams of 4) for the above event.  So ff we set to Welham Park Road, Market Harborough, hoping that the cloudy sky would not release the promised rain too early in the day.

This was a new experience for several of us, although it was noted that some amongst us had their own “woods” - I think they may have played before.  We were split into teams of 4.  Two from each team playing each end of the green.  The first person threw the “jack”, then both the players in each of the two teams took it in turn to bowl the “woods” to see which team could get the most “woods” nearest to the “jack”.  Each player had 2 “woods”.  After this, players at the other end had their go.  Bowls is a game of skill as the “woods” are weighted to roll in a curve.  A very enjoyable time was had by all though more practice is needed by myself.  

By midday the weather had won so that the light lunch put on by Shangton was organised half an hour early.  This was extremely good.  Thanks to Mike Booth and Trish for a well organised and enjoyable morning.

White Water Rafting - The Rime of the Relatively-Ancient Mariner (by Samuel Taylor Goodyear)

On a rain-swept evening in late July, ten (fool?)-hardy souls came together to take the worst that the mighty, fast-flowing River Nene could throw at them - and all survived, more or less, intact.  This was due in no small part to the tidal navigators, who instructed us in the ways of the fast and furious flume.  

Your correspondent was naively surprised to quickly discover how quickly a person can become soaked from head to toe on a raft (he was expecting, perhaps, a little water in the face, but not much more).  So when our tutors invited us to make a splash in the water, by jumping into the Northampton Niagara, there was not much on him to get wet.  Thus he, and most of the brave band of brothers and sisters jumped (dived?) into the raging torrents.  Luckily, the only casualties recorded were to the members’ sense of dignity.

Finally, a wet - but welcome - evening ended with a “splashing time being had by all!”.

Grafham water and all that (article by Jon Tuplin)

grafham The gang arrived at the venue slightly late, a mix-up with Nigel so I understand. He had arrived at the venue early and now was missing, but he soon turned up. With 16 of us divided in to two teams, a leisurely ten miles cycle ride round the reservoir was the first event. Peta and Grace where not going cycling, Pauline had a go and changed her mind. I think she was feeling out of sorts the whole day. Sandy fell off her bike, injured her leg but carried on. She’s a game girl! I came first at the cycling but that’s more to do with my lack of sociability than my prowess on two wheels.

Then on to the canoes. Two persons to each canoe; we helped each other to carry the canoes to the water. When all the canoes where in place it was ready, steady, go. A short but challenging course with technique beating brawn. I never did see the out-come of the race as Sandy went of to get changed after being dragged out of the water coughing and spluttering when our canoe capsized “I hope that’s it!” said Sandy.  “The dishwater packed up and tripped out the electric this morning. I fell off the bike and now this.” It was then I told her that the electronic key to the car was in my pocket when I fell in the drink and would not work (water on the brain). Lucky it still opens the old-fashioned way.

After lunch sailing was the thing. With Captain Keith at the helm we set sail for deeper water where we all had a turn (if we wanted to) at controlling the boat. Then the race was on, three laps of the tri-angular course it was great fun although we lost miserably, but I learnt a lot and it won’t be so easy the next time!  Now for the last event, raft building. We had determination in our heart and fire in our eyes as we constructed our raft together. Then into the water: two laps of the course was required, four team members aboard each time.  What a performance, we where victorious. Red team eat our wake! It was a brilliant day but your body suffers the next day. It’s great to be alive!

Grafham Water (Sandy Clifford’s version of the day)

raft It was a lovely day, the sun was shining and there was a gentle wind.  I start this day forgetting the most important items: my changes of clothes.  Never mind Jon would lend me his shorts and a spare shirt.  I was looking forward to the cycle ride around the lake as I had already had a practise cycle ride to Poddington the previous Sunday.  This was possibly the start of the problem.  The cycles were all chosen and we were all feeling great and off we were to go.  Thought “I’m clever” and turned the cycle round - ooops! it went one way and I fell over it.  Still apart from feeling silly we set off quite smoothly.  We stopped a couple of times and the guide rallied us together.  We gradually thinned out riding round the rest of the lake.  Great I managed not to fall in the hedge when a fellow cyclist went past and I did see Jon occasionally in the distance marking the way, so I surprised myself and did not get lost.  Arrived back quite elated but had to repair the wound which looked far worse than it was.

Remember my first line.  The next challenge was the canoeing.  I always wanted to go canoeing.  Great!  We were set a course and a challenge but the wind, the weather or by sheer bad luck whatever - I had the first experience of paddling a canoe and of being tipped over into the water head first.  I only wanted to be rescued as I had never experienced that before.  When I caught my breath I was hauled out of the water.  I believe we were having a noisy discussion on who was supposed to steer the craft and the captain went in with the ship.  I felt very cold as though someone had filled the lake with ice cubes so went for a cup of warming tea and a biscuit.

Next was the sailing, I had another set of clothes on hopefully I would not be in the water this time.  Peta was an experienced sailor and managed the sails with great care as we were to win this race.  I did my usual, hindering as much as possible but trying to help. The captain, Keith, had said that the crew were there to keep him dry.   How come Jon managed to be at the helm when the waves were heading towards me?  Did he not want to get wet!!!!!!!!. The captain was very good and everyone who wanted to had a chance to steer.  (Not sure that is the correct terminology I only know mermaid talk when it comes to water as I seem to be in it or wearing it such a lot today.)  Oh no! I think I would have been dryer in the lake than trying to sail on it.  Next time I will try the helm and not feel a coward to move in the boat.  Great - I was only partially wet this time and need not change.  We won by default whatever the other team said. Hurrah!!

Last was the big challenge: could we make a raft and paddle it to the boat and back twice so all the team had fun when it fell apart?  NO! This would not happen! I would not get soaked again!  Wet suits were the order of the day and I would not freeze.  We had four barrels, four long poles and two short poles and as much rope as we needed.  This was team building at its best.  All together the rafts were built and looked very sturdy.  I am coward to the last and jumped on the first run just in case!!!!!!!!!!!!  But never fear, the trusty craft took us to the boat and back twice and we carried it up the bank, took it apart and packed it away.  What a great day!

I was tired, dry, warm and hungry when I was thinking on the way home what fun it had been with friends who I hope had enjoyed the day as me.  Thanks to the organisers of this lovely day.  

Fireworks Competition (article by Pam Tomalin)

fireworks Although the weather did not look too promising over 40 of us decided to venture forth for the fireworks festival at Stanford Hall.  Behind the scenes and before the main throng of the visitors arrived a small team assisted me in erecting my gazebo.  Talk about the blind leading the blind! After much deliberation and moving about of poles into different positions, finally the frame was assembled and the roof fitted.  At this point existing team had had enough and fortunately the arrival of team 2 (in the guise of Paul & co) enabled us to complete the project with the rain having very thoughtfully held off throughout the whole process.  People and food were now arriving in great abundance (especially the food!!) and everyone settled down to eat drink and be merry.  Once daylight had disappeared the fireworks began with a short technical display of different types of fireworks and then the competition got underway.  The displays from the 4 teams (all set to music) were magnificent and words, oohs! – aahs! – and wows! cannot describe the size, colours and splendour of the whole thing.  From comments made to yours truly,  and a bit of getting into the mood with some dancing, everyone had enjoyed the evening.  Finally, it was time to depart with only the daunting task of disassembling the gazebo (in total darkness). My grateful thanks to all who helped me (unfortunately as it was dark – only one or two faces were recognised) but I couldn’t have done it without you guys.  Unbelievably only one screw was lost in the whole operation!  Well done to all helpers.  Finally after about four attempts, all was stuffed into my car, along with my 3 passengers and of we went into the night from whence we came – tired but happy.

Microlighting  (article by Mick Cook)

Sunday 14th August, weather not too good.  Will we get the all clear to fly?  9am: no phone call from Graham so I guess we must be off to the back of beyond for my first ever flight in a Microlight.  A map was provided so Sackville Farm Airfield was not too difficult to find although when we arrived Ann and I did wonder where everyone else had got to.  We should have known they would be in the Club house brewing up.
The wind seemed very strong to all 50+ Adventurers but there they were, two fixed-wing Microlights being prepared for takeoff.  Time for a cup of tea first and lots of time for any pre-flight nerves to be settled by some idle chatter, talk of crashes and survival rates quickly being brushed over.  Time now for the first two brave volunteers to step forward. Not too many willing to take the plunge first off considering there were a few here that had done this before.  First two up and it looks a bit bumpy up there from below but they report back safely and comment on how quickly their 15 minutes went.  All too soon it was my turn and excitement took over from nerves.  The flight was great, terrific views over the countryside Rushden way, and beyond and no time to notice the turbulence. There were a few squally showers during the day and the last few flights were delayed by the wind and rain but all 12 of us had good flights and picked up our certificates afterwards to remind us of our airborne adventure.

Ice Karting (article by Lyn Bennison)

icekarting What an amazing adventure!  Winding our way upwards and downwards – left then right, then left again, and again, and then, yes….we were back where we started.  What?  You’ve guessed it, the venue was in Milton Keynes – a place that you either understand – or you don’t.  So no surprises, we arrived a little late but no problems, they’ve only been going through the safety check – the race hasn’t started yet – all I have to do is find a helmet that fits (snugly) and join a team.  I’m in the kart and some nice chap is making sure I can reach the pedals with a jumper for a back cushion – and I’m off.  Yipee!  This is absolutely fantastic – racing down the straights of the ice rink, heading for the corner and I’m steering strongly round the bend but, oh dear…what was that safety check I missed?  Where is the brake – whoops, no you don’t use the brake on the bend.  Oh never mind, I’ll just go round in a circle while I get a panoramic view of the circuit.  Right, I’m off.  Only a practice round he said – no sweat then – but I do need to find out how well this kart can manoeuvre on the ice.  Hey, wait a minute there is someone in my way.  She is not going fast enough and I dare not brake again – this is not a roundabout.  Oh dear, what to do? I’ll just have to accelerate and get past her – no room for indecision now – just go for it – here goes!!! Yikes, what was that?  I heard an ear piercing scream and a wail as I passed – what did I do wrong?  Oooops! It was just a practice round and overtaking was not allowed, and Peta (my opponent) received a heart racing surprise.  Suitably admonished I watched the rest of the team complete circuits with the two teams in competition.  No holds barred now, each member went for gold, spinning and pirouetting with flair and determination.  I’d like to think we could do better on land but I’m not convinced!  My team managed to speed the karts round the track with great entertainment, much fun and amazingly, winning style.  I was the last to complete a circuit and pulled into the pit only to find a flag thrust into my hand.  Triumphantly I was privileged to drive once more round the track on a ‘lap of honour’.  What an absolute thrill.
Many thanks to the organiser for a splendid, memorable evening.


The First Evening (article by Jim Bennison)

On my previous visits to Longtown after the evening meal it was into the minibuses and off climbing some mountain in the dark, but not this time.  We were issued with our “wellies” (don’t forget their number) split into two groups and clambered down to the bottom field in the dark.  Our group spent the next hour and a bit accepting and overcoming “challenges” on the small ropes course. We traversed poles, clambered up rope ladders, crawled through dark tunnels greatly helped and encouraged by other members of our team.  It was then time to climb back up the hill to a welcome cup of tea or drinking chocolate.
There was one more challenge that some of us accepted voluntarily, a cryptic quiz on the names of birds. With our treasurer Pauline in tremendous form we completed the quiz by midnight. Our answers were checked the following evening and all were correct but we were disqualified because it was a team effort.
I will always remember the walk back up the hill from the ropes course that first evening for the clear night sky and the wonderful stars in the heavens.

Gorge Walking (article by John Gouldson)

Having received the kit list from Pauline, I set about making sure I had just about every weather eventuality covered. Thankfully 50+ had once again ordered the sun god to shine on us all weekend.
This was my first chance since joining to really get to know other members and Longtown turned out to be a superb place for this. It comes as no surprise to me now that this is one of our most sought after events. The staff were terrific and extremely professional, often getting individuals to exceed their personal boundaries.
Saturday dawned cloudy, but soon that burned away to beautiful blue sky. We had chosen to split into three groups: Gorge Walkers / Gorge Walker & Rock Climbing / Canoeing.
I chose gorge walking. We boarded our bus and set off for the hour’s journey to the gorge. After donning our water proofs (about as waterproof as a teabag) we set off. Andy (our instructor) had us linking arms to wade rivers, we walked along the edge of waterfalls, crawled behind them, leapt chasms and scrambled up vertical faces.  However the best was saved until last. Hooked up to the safety line those that were so inclined could leap into the river.
This activity was enjoyed by all ages from 51 to 71. My advice to other members who are thinking about going is “just go” you will love it.

Canoeing on the Wye (article by John West)

Meanwhile another group of 5 adventurers helped load Canadian Canoes and headed east to the river Wye, north of Symonds Yat, with their instructors Mike and Tom. While Mike drove the minibus and trailer downstream to our pick-up point - and then ran the 3 miles back! – we carefully stowed tops and packed lunches into watertight drums. They had originally been used to ship Bengal Hot Chutney from India. Would they survive the river test?
We launched into a quiet section of the river and paddled upstream to practice manoeuvres.  Firstly across the very gentle rapids, then we canoed upstream and turned downstream into the rapids. Peter MacGovern and Ann Cook were first to go and whoops!  Suddenly they were in the water with canoe heading off downstream. Fortunately the water was shallow and they were able to wade ashore while our instructors retrieved the canoe.
Time for lunch on an island in the middle of the river only to discover slightly damp sandwiches in the drum!
A more peaceful afternoon paddling downstream admiring the view and being overtaken by more energetic crews competing in a raft race. Then we successfully crossed two more rapids on the way to our landing point. A super experience; try it next year when there will be new canoes.

Sunday (article by Joy King)

Sunday morning and the sun greets us.  Already the group had accomplished so much and I was really looking forward to the high wires.  Zip wire first, instructed and harnessed up I have a nervous moment looking down then, whoosh, I am off flying through the air transported back to childhood.  Elated I run back up the hill for another turn.  Next the climbing wall.  Can I really do this? Encouraged I climb to the top and abseil down eager for a repeat performance.  Wow – John and Paul are climbing the wall blindfolded (no – not because they are scared, they just love a challenge)
Confidence growing by the minute I am off to the high wires, climbing up poles and balancing on wires high above the ground.  By this time I have utmost trust in the instructors and when they say jump – I jump. I promise myself I will attempt the leap of faith next year.
What a fantastic end to a super weekend, all made possible by the excellent supervision of the instructors and the support and encouragement of all the 50+ group.  At the end of the weekend I truly felt as if I could do anything – it’s a great feeling!  Thanks.

Wrap-up (opinion of John West)

So how did our adventurers rate this far outpost of the Northamptonshire County Council?

Location of Centre 
Kirstie and Phil would approve [“Location, Location, Location” presenters on Ch4 for the uninitiated!]
When did you last sleep in a bunk bed?
Ugh! Do they really feed this stuff to our children? [Aw John, it wasn’t that bad!!!]
Organised, safety conscious and always supportive of our efforts [Hear, hear say all Club members]
Location of activities 
Fantastic – wild and beautiful
In summary 
A tremendous facility for Northamptonshire and a great use of your Council Tax money

Walking with Scarecrows (article by Susan Drinkwater)

scarcorow On a damp drizzly Sunday morning 11 ‘brave men (and women) and true’ met in the Northamptonshire village of Harpole ready to brave the elements.  Everyone had made sterling efforts with their outfits in order to enter into the spirit of the weekend.  Last minute adjustments were made using balls of string and more straw to make sure that no one felt underdressed.

Off we trudged into the village causing much amusement amongst the organisers and locals as all their scarecrows were firmly fixed to the ground.  We passed many houses with ingenious visitors ranging from Humpty Dumpty to bodies in coffins displayed on their front lawns and walls.  After a short while we turned onto a local footpath and made our way out of the village, across the sheep fields (watching carefully where we trod due to the laxatives obviously now being fed to the local livestock).  We were a great success with the bird population as not one attempted to land on us or eat any crops that we came near!!

At the end of a pleasant couple or miles stroll through the country we returned through the drizzle to adjourn to the Bull to meet friends for a lunchtime drink and snack.  Following lunch, another couple of hours were spent admiring the efforts in the remainder of the village.  Much wonderment was expressed at the inventiveness of people - would you have thought to make your personal scarecrow as a couple of belly dancers with camels and pyramid?

Thanks to Linda for coordinating a very pleasant expedition and a most interesting experience.

Water Ski-ing at Grendon Lakes (article by Margaret Sharman)

ringos With trepidation I turned up at Grendon Lakes on an overcast cool September afternoon, wondering indeed what I had let myself in for.

When we were all assembled it was off to get changed into our wetsuits (another first for me), I was a bit concerned that I was given the short-legged, no sleeves variety and thought that if I don’t drown first the hypothermia would be sure to get me.  Cecil, Val, Sue, Tony, Keith, Pauline and I were then lined up in our wetsuits and mandatory life jackets ready for the action to commence.

Keith set the pace and certainly impressed us all by finding his feet and staying on them for considerable distances and even managed to go round corners.  Then it was my turn, in the boat, skis on, off the back of the boat, in the water and then the trouble started, no matter how hard I tried I could not keep the two skis pointing skyward.  I either keeled over to one side or the other or turned around with my back to the boat, eventually I was in the right position for take off and managed to raise myself out of the water for half a second before flying forward on to my face but hanging on to the rope for dear life before realising that was not a good idea and eventually let go.  I tried once more and then gracefully retired.  Tony followed and seemed to be having the same problems as me but was slightly more successful.  Val’s turn next and she was certainly more proficient at getting into the starting position but it ended up that Keith was the star skier.

Then it was the turn of the ‘ringos’ – large inflatable rings that you sat in, gripped the handles and hung on whilst being flung side to side, up and down at speed round the lake.  Keith again was first, held on and returned safe and sound.  Me next, asking the driver not to go so far or fast, not sure that he heard me though.  I hung on and survived, very exhilarating (when it was over). Tony next, the first to be flung out at speed but managed to climb back on board and continue. The next to be bounced out was Sue with Val and Cecil both managing to stay onboard for their trip.

A very enjoyable Sunday afternoon!  The hypothermia?  I didn’t have time to think about that!

A Novel Waverley Tale (article by Jeremy Furnish)

waverley On 1st October, some 43 determined adventurers boarded a coach at the Pemberton Centre, and rode off to Harwich. And what a good idea the coach was! Many thanks Peta. At Harwich our transport of delight awaited us and off we went for about 8 hours, calling at Clacton, Southend and Tilbury. When I last boarded the Waverley it was to go down the Clyde when 1 was a boy so there was some personal nostalgia.
There was a decent sea running but the shape and design of the steamer made light of this; Waverley is the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world and was built in 1948, but still made good speed. Her timetable speed is 14-15 knots, but she can make 17 if pushed, so the Purser told me. On deck there was a good stiff breeze and lots of sun and most of us settled down to being real pseudo-sailors.
Eventually we entered the Thames estuary, with a necessary reduction in speed as there was a good deal of shipping about, and headed up to Tower Bridge. On the way we passed a lot of famous sights including the London Eye, and the comparison between the elegant slender structure of the Eye and the grim, thick construction of the Tower was quite something. For me, though, the evening sun reflecting from Canary Wharf was marvellous. Tower Bridge opened for us, but I did not see this as by then it was raining and I was in the saloon - but it was special for the hardy souls on deck.
There was a very good commentary from the knowledgeable master throughout the trip, but the PA system was very faint so that most of the commentary was difficult to hear, which I thought a great pity.  Just before Tower Bridge, I did see what may be the Waverley's sister ship, the Queen Mary. I remember her on the Clyde when she was called Queen Mary 11, as there was another, larger vessel of the same name! I never found out which came first.
After we left the ship, we looked for and found Mary Poppins (or anyway her umbrella - well done again Peta) and climbed on to the coach again for the return to Rushden. Did I say the coach was a good idea? It was really a terrific idea. I, for one, was very tired at the end of the trip, and would not have liked to drive from Harwich to Rushden. The coach seemed full of somnolent sailors, so I was not the only one.  This was my first long activity with the Club, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, as did my guest. Many thanks to all the organisers for a fine piece of work.

A Walk on the Wild (Wolf) Side (article by Graham and Helen Rowson)

wolf “We must be mad!” I remember thinking as my wife and I turned up to our first event of the 50+ Adventure Club. I know we wanted adventure, and I had heard of someone before dancing with wolves (but only in Hollywood) but I had never heard of anyone doing what we were planning to do: walking with wolves?
Arriving early, we had a quick round of friendly introductions from the other 7 members of the Adventure Club, some still hazy from the previous day's Thames river boat trip. Our welcome talk from Chris on a cold but beautifully clear Sunday morning at the secret location outside Bedford, served only to heighten our anticipation of meeting "The Boys". Although the 14-point safety checklist of do's and don'ts had already come through the post, described as 100 lb top-rank predators, the alpha male Cheza (Swahili for Playful)and his brother Peyto (named after a wolf’s head-shaped lake in Canada) did not disappoint. We had to approach their compound in groups of 3 or 4 so as not to appear as territorial invaders and we had to avoid the one metre pee-spraying radius through the thick wire mesh of the compound. Close to the animals were sleek, powerful and beautiful. Hard to imagine there are only some 150,000 left in the wild.
With Sefka, a two and a half year old Canadian grey wolf pacing in the background in a separate area where she was still acclimatising after her arrival only two weeks earlier, Philip the Chairman of the Anglian Wolf Society gave us a fascinating talk. He described how the two male cubs had been acquired in 2001 at only 10 days old before their eyes opened so that humans would be the first things they would see thereby overcoming the wolf’s innate fear of human beings.  Hand-reared, the two male wolves looked bouncing with health and enjoying the
environment provided for them by AWS. Even now, however, the appearance of an arthritic Alsatian whom the wolves think of as their alpha mother, can reduce them to cowering wrecks. Suddenly it was time for the handlers to fit chain leashes to "The Boys" and then we were off through the surrounding countryside, privileged to be walking alongside (and sometimes disconcertingly directly in front of the two wolves.

Meanwhile poor Selka protested noisily at being left behind since she is not yet fully leash-trained (although with each wolf having the same pulling power as a full husky dog-sled team of 6, it would be no competition with the handler if either of the wolves had decided to go ......

All too soon it was back to the compound for a welcome cup of hot tea and a final chance to say farewell to three of the finest animals I have ever met. Thank you so much, Pam for organising this “walk on the wild side” for us. The experience will certainly stay with us for a long while to come.

Do not Forsake Me: The Ballad of Conker High Noon (by Robert Wakefield)

Do not forsake me O my Conker
On this our Conker day,
Do not forsake me O my Conker
Hang, hang about.

The noonday start will bring Conker Killer
If I’m a man I must be brave
And I must face that Conker killer
Or live a coward, a craven coward,
Or be as a coward all my life.

O to be torn ‘twixt contest and duty!
S’posin’ he breaks my shiny brown beauty!
Look at that big hand swing that nut!
The contest’s so soon.
I made a vow ‘while in the club’,
Vow’d it would be my Conker, or the pub!
I’m not afraid of Conker death but O,
What will I do if he breaks you?

Do not forsake me O my Conker
I made a promise to be strong,
Do not forsake me O my Conker
Although I’m grievin’ I’m never leavin’
Until I smash his Conker dead.

conkers Four brave club members rose to the Conker challenge at Ashton Northants on Sunday 9th October 2005.  Alone in deadly combat and without warning three club members took early heavy collateral damage resulting in their termination of their world championship hopes.  (For all you armchair Non-Conker athletes; they got knocked out the first round.)
Cecil’s rigorous six month training regime of strict diet, half marathons and personal massage (sorry Cecil I can’t keep this a secret from anyone any longer) paid excellent dividends and he made it to the 4th round only to be knocked out by a failed semi-finalist whose trademark was ‘I take no prisoners’. 
Cecil came so close to glory on that fateful ‘Sunday High Noon’ in Ashton and in years to come the 50 plus legend may refer to him as the man not to tangle with when he has his nuts on a string! 

Cycle Ride (article by Jim Bennison)

cycle There was slight mist over the reservoir as the 16 cyclists met at 10-30 a.m. for the start of the cycle ride. 4 of the 16 chose to walk around the reservoir instead of ride and so the 12 set off on their own bikes at the sun started to break through the mist. There was brave talk about doing the 71/2-mile circuit twice but that proved just to be an optimistic dream.

The pace was easy, the scenery majestic (like a Scottish Highland Loch without the mountains) and the sun shone on a very pleasant and rewarding cycle ride.  We completed the ride by 12 noon (walkers still going strong) and then it was off to the Griffin Inn for a drink and very enjoyable Sunday lunch.  We all enjoyed a lovely Sunday morning cycle ride (or walk), well worth doing again and 30 was raised for charity.

Halloween Weekend

Ironbridge (article by Anne Kindleysides)

tar tunnel The Cradle of the Industrial Revolution in Britain; Entrepreneurs and Experimenters; Iron works; The largest china factory in the world; Innovative blast furnaces  ……smoke, dust, grime and heat. Bedlam!.......... Just the place for the latest 50+ Adventure.

Now a beautiful gorge where the River Severn flows through the autumn tinted woodland, it is hard to imagine the sweat and toil of the workers here in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Workers hardly ever saw the sun because the pall of smoke which blackened the whole valley. They certainly had no Health and Safety Executive with life expectancy was 39…. So no scope for our club there!

Saturday morning began for the 28 of us with a visit to The Coalport China Museum. Here we met up with our guide, Victoria, who was well informed and very enthusiastic about the locality. John Rose a china manufacturer and benefactor set up his business here in 1795.  It was an experimental business became very successful. It was the largest china manufactory in the world.   Victoria was an excellent guide and we learned of the processes by which Coalport bone china was made and the various occupations.  The men were employed as technical production line workers, the boys as porters carrying china to the kilns. Young girls painted the wares….…and the women got the dirty smelly work. They scraped the remains of meat from the cow bones which were used in the china making process when ground down to a powder. They had an interesting sideline… they were allowed to keep the maggots they found to sell on to fishermen.  One of the most important workers was the fireman who was responsible for the firing process. He had to judge temperatures by experience….his job was critical because the entire work force were only paid for saleable products. Complicated patterns such as Indian Tree took 7 firings as each colour of glaze needed different temperature to develop so colours were built up one by one. Thus one mistake would be a disaster.

Paul may be an impostor since he can lay no claim to having senior moments! He amazingly recalled the following facts:

•    Each of the 6 kilns held
•    70,000 pieces of china and
•    used 15 tons of coal
•    in the six day process
•    which was carried out by a team of six men. 

Victoria’s talk was fascinating.  Illusions were shattered about the Willow Pattern and its legend: not Japanese at all, the pattern was invented at Coalport.  We learned the origins of “breaking the mould” and “to put a sock in it”.  The first referred to the practice at the end of a run the master mould would be broken when a limited edition was being made.  The second saying related to the men who filled the kilns.  As the 6 kilns were never idle, they never truly cooled down in the 6 day cycle of production (2 days to load, 2 days to cook and 2 days to empty). The workers would wrap old clothes and socks around their limbs to protect themselves from burns. A person grumbling about the heat would literally be told to “put a sock in it”.  And then there was the critical task of being a “sagger maker’s bottom knocker”.  The “sagger” is a clay mould which holds the china whilst it is in the kiln.  This mould must be tightly fitted otherwise smoke will ruin the china during the firing.  Saggers are stacked upon each other within the kiln so the base of the sagger (its bottom!) must be very strong and tightly fitting on the underneath sagger to ensure that there are no disasters in the kiln whilst firing takes place. 

We walked along the canal to view the Hay Inclined plane where barges had once been lowered down the hillside. An ingenious process of counter-balancing where the full, heavier container automatically brought up the lighter, empty container - all built in the 1792 and did the equivalent work of 27 locks!  Next we walked into the tar tunnel where bitumen seepage had been discovered whilst the construction work was in progress. It was here that we left Victoria but all agreed that she had made our visit lively and instructive.

Then on to Ironbridge to view the first ever iron bridge which was cast in Abraham Darby’s Iron Works.  Interestingly, Victoria had told us that the original bridge had had dovetailed joins such as a carpenter would have made in wood. The bridge has since been bolted together.  After lunch we visited The Gorge Museum where we learned that the locality had been very favourable one for the start of the industrialisation because it had natural resources such as coal, iron ore and lime and the River Severn which could be used for sailing ships bringing other materials and carrying away finished products the 100 or so miles downstream to Bristol and the sea.  This was a fascinating start to our weekend and we would like to thank Mike and Tricia for all the work which they have put in to make it such a successful event.

Our Haunted Evening (article by Peta Jellis)

witchcraft Under Ghostly Gaslight, 27 Club members stood, in various ghoulish costumes!  “Is that you, Jim?” I asked?  It was - behind a particularly scary mask.  We hardly recognised each other once we were all assembled in a variety of mummy’s costumes, witches hats, and ugly faces (well, we recognised most of them - no real change!).  Never before in the history of Coalport YHA had such a weird assembly sat down to a bangers-and-mash evening meal.  Before we started out, Linda Vickerman had to give Pauline a lesson on how to ride her broomstick as Pauline had the twigs at the front but we thought it prudent not press Linda on how she was an expert on broomstick travel in case she was also an expert on spell-casting.  Pam’s costume was enhanced by a limp which was not faked, and she was stopped on several occasions by brave children who asked to have their picture taken with her!   As we paraded down Bilsts Hill Victorian Town, we found we were in good company for an evening’s haunting activities.  The Victorian street had demonstrations how the dentist pulled teeth before anaesthetics, doctors treated unmentionable diseases with VERY LARGE syringes and how candles were made - very smelly it was too!  We pressed our noses against the sweet shop to look for pear drops (do you remember those?) and tried roasted chestnuts.  Lyn Bennison (hereinafter known as Lyn “Flintoff” Bennison) also won 2 coconuts on the shy.  After the fireworks, we departed for the hostel and a trip to the pub - haunting is very thirsty work!

Coalbrookdale Museum and Derby Houses (article by Anne McGovern)

Sunday dawned damp and miserable but the 50+ gang were eager to continue their investigation into the importance of this area to the industrial revolution.

halloween group The Museum of Iron was well set out and gave us loads of information to digest.  As early as 1545 simple furnaces ‘bloomeries’ fired with charcoal, produced small balls of a spongy iron or ‘blooms’ but once the use of coke was developed by Abraham Darby,  Coalbrookdale quickly became famous for its cast and wrought iron. In 1815 after the Napoleonic wars, there was a slump, as the depression began. Then Francis Darby, who had great taste and loved high art, began specialising in fine art casting and by the 1851 Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace, it was the largest foundry in the world, with an output of 2000 tons a week and about 3000 employees.

The display upstairs of small intricate caste plates to a huge decorative table was particularly fascinating – pots that we could barely lift empty and of course the very familiar Aga cooker still made in the region today.

The Darby houses built for the ‘iron master and family’ gave us an insight into their home lives. Though Quakers, they had a busy social life, travelled widely and had a far less simple lifestyle than anticipated, but their Quaker values were seen in the way they cared for their employees.  At the time of our visit a Quaker meeting was in progress in an adjacent house.

No computers but some very clever imaginative and hard working people made this valley important. It was good to see their efforts brought to life again.

Wine Tasting at Thrapston (article by Diane and John West)

On a frosty November evening 17 intrepid adventurers sought refuge in the  ‘Grape Ideas’ wine shop in Thrapston. We were enthusiastically greeted by Mark, a partner in the business, with a glass of sparkling Australian wine. Then onto four other white wines from across the globe including France and Argentina.  There was much sipping, slurping and discussion of the flavours and Mark had provided wonderful nibbles of Olives, Cheeses, Pt and biscuits, so there was no reason for anyone to keel over!
Mark was extremely knowledgeable and answered all our questions. He introduced a Quiz before moving on to his selection of red wines starting with the newly arrived Beaujolais Nouveau and a delightful Grenache from the Barossa valley, finishing with three other wines from Australia and France.  He rounded off the evening by testing our wine knowledge with the answers to the Quiz, won by Diane with assistance from her very able team – the prize; a bottle of sparkling Angas Brut. Did you know that the bug that can decimate grape vines is called Phylloxera?

At the end of the evening we were able to purchase wines at very good prices so the shop is well worth a visit at 7 Midland Road, Thrapston. Thank you Linda for organising a splendid evening.

BODY FLYING (article by Shelia Casey)

“Fly like a bird” – that’s how I felt as I launched myself into the blast.

bodyflying I had seen people body-flying on television and it looked great fun, so I squashed my natural fear of heights and determined to have a go.  Throughout the mission to get there following map and instructions, and being admitted through the security gate at Yarls Wood Detention Centre, my fears stayed squashed successfully until I stood beneath the tall, cylindrical tower and craned my neck to gaze up at the top.  It looked so vertigo-inducingly high from below, and I knew that it would look at least that bad looking down as I lay on a cushion of air.  Even if that blast was theoretically sufficient to support me and I kept my eyes tightly closed, I would know that there wasn’t really anything under me – not to mention power-cuts.  So I climbed the stairs in great trepidation.

Fortunately, the Reception lounge-area had close-circuit TV and we could watch other punters performing in the chamber.  I could see that there was a grid across the chasm and I couldn’t fall through!  So I waited in growing excitement until it was the turn of our group of eight to go for our safety briefing.  Here we were encouraged to fold our bodies backwards into the shape of a badminton shuttlecock – only really feasible for those who had practised yoga – in order to fly. We dressed in the posey aerodynamic body suits, goggles, helmets and essential ear-plugs before awaiting our turn for the blast.

At last my turn came.  I stood on the threshold, feeling the blast in front of me and then stepped forward and horizontally.  What a thrill it was!  The noise and the force of the wind were ignored as I relaxed in the feeling of floating.  A history of back-problems meant that I wasn’t prepared to invert myself properly, so I didn’t fly as well as many of the others, but I enjoyed every minute.

Our two 3-minute flying sessions were only an introduction, so we weren’t skilled enough to tackle formation-flying and this was a disappointment, but every skill has to be learned.  Did I enjoy it?  Yes, definitely.  Would I go again?  No.  I love water; swimming and floating are my ideal environments, so I would rather go diving than flying - but that is only personal choice.

arrow Back to Home Page
Back to 2005 Programme