New Year’s Party - Article by Pauline Ashby

Thirty three revellers gathered at the Carriage House in Higham Ferrers for our annual knees-up. This year the theme was “A Masked Ball”, and 9 partygoers turned up in masks all worthy of a prize. Richard Stanley was declared the winner in a huge pair of sunglasses and a sexy silver cap – only he could have carried this off! After a lovely meal with lots of jovial banter, we got down to the serious business – PARTY GAMES!  First up was a game involving a bucket and several long, thin balloons. The game was hilarious and Jane Tromans ended up with a bucket full of money – Well, a few 10 pence pieces in the bottom. After a couple of Rock ‘n Rolls we opted for the all-time favourite – Musical Chairs. 50+ers are known for their competitive spirit, and Musical Chairs is no exception. After a fierce battle one winner emerged and everyone then refilled their glasses and took a breather. Next came the dreaded “Quiz”. Amid groans of “It’s as hard as last years”, everyone settled down for a few minutes to try and answer 27 questions which I didn’t think were as hard as last years (Mind you – I always have the answers). Somebody else has offered to do next years quiz – Hoorah! By now it was getting on for midnight, so after a couple of slow dances, the tired but happy revellers donned their coats and headed for home. A superb evening, one of my favourites, thank-you to everyone for making it so much fun!
mask dj
Best mask winner
DJ  Pauline

Greyhound racing at Peterborough – Article by Linda Vickerman

It was my first time!! On a cold and draughty evening accompanied by 15 other intrepid dog fanciers I set off for a Greyhound Racing evening in Peterborough. Luckily it was warm and dry in the viewing stadium, but the dogs and their handlers were out in the cold and wet! We collected our drinks, ordered food, found our tables by the finishing post and studied form. I have never placed a bet before, but was soon introduced to, and totally confused by, odds, places, wins, trios, forecasts etc and other useful info by the expert on our table - Cecil! After a few races it was obvious to me that the best system was to use a pin, pick a funny name or just go for the dog with a waggy tail! We proceeded to use our preferred methods for 13 races with varying amounts of success! On our table of 4 we all had a few wins with one exception. No names mentioned but it begins with C and ends with L!! The largest win in the group was £9 + so no-one made a fortune, but great fun was had by one and all. Many thanks to Ann for organising the evening.
P.S  It will not be my last time!!

Ten Pin Bowling at Wellingborough – Article by Hilary Connon

ten pin bowling It was a wild and rainy night as we set off to Wellingborough to try our hand at bowling. Personally, it has been many years since I had attempted the sport, and I have a strong memory of winning the booby prize for the most consistently low score at a charity event. (I still got a souvenir t-shirt despite letting down my team). There were 39 members present, some were ‘newbies’ like me, and others just enjoying the beginning of the new season and swapping stories. After sorting out the business of getting the right shoes, we divided up into 5 teams and started to punch in our names to set up the score board. Strategically we all chose the balls that most matched our hand size and strength. (I noticed some ladies clutching their favourite ball protectively between throws in the same way a small dog will guard its dinner). Since I had little hands I thought it would be a good idea to choose SMALL – big mistake! When my turn came to hurl the ball down the lane it jammed firmly on my thumb and fingers and nearly took me with it. Apparently our fingers expand with the heat and mine got stuck! Our team played two very good rounds, and I surprised myself by having a healthy hit rate too. It was very sportsmanlike and there was lots of encouragement given. We did get a little more casual in play after a few wines on an empty stomach, but it was great fun and very sociable. I did hear that one of the other teams actually ‘broke’ their lane and had to move to another one and if anyone commented that our own computer sometimes gave extra goes to a certain person, we won’t confirm or deny it……. After the two games we sat down to eat and chat, which gave us a chance to mingle with some of the other teams. The printouts were distributed and prizes awarded to Celia Curtis (149) and Richard Amos (155) for the highest scores of the evening. Thank you so much to Pauline for organising this fun event.

Tobogganing and Extreme Tubing at Tamworth Snowdome. - Article by Lucy Oliver-Carton

What a wonderful welcome I received from the 50+ Club after such a long absence. After meeting in the foyer of the cavernous Snowdome we all filtered through to Aspen’s bar talking excitedly about our prospective adventure. Here we got our first glimpse of the ominously huge snow covered slope that stretched high into the distance and out of sight. It was then that our excitement mounted coupled with a little apprehension. After a brief and video we were ushered out into the icy atmosphere with our toboggans. We travelled up the steep gradient on a heavily vibrating travelator into the rarefied atmosphere where coloured lights were flashing and music playing. With heart beating fast I gingerly sat on my little toboggan and I was away with twin jets of snow spraying out behind and screaming all the way down. It was brilliant. We returned again and again witnessing a few spills and thrills. That was not an end of it. Oh no! After donning coloured helmets and collecting our inflated tubes it was on to another area of two channels which were much faster. I found the prospect absolutely terrifying. I sat in the middle of my ‘doughnut’ and screaming loudly hurtled down the slope hanging on but being buffeted against safety cushions, spinning backwards and forwards with no control at all. At the bottom as you hit the safety barrier it hurtled you up into the air and then a quick scramble out of the way of the next traveller. However, undeterred we again went back for more.  We all gathered together afterwards and everyone agreed a wonderful time was had by all. Thank you so much everyone for your company and to Jane for her sterling organisation.

Laser Maze - Article by Cheryl Mossop

Other than a drink in a pub this was the first event we have attended.  So on Thursday the 13th we set off (at least it wasn’t Friday 13th) and waited in the car park until we saw some people of our maturity going in.  Inside we received a warm welcome before the 16 of us were divided into three teams by Pauline – Red, Yellow and Blue. After a pep talk on how to use the equipment and play the game properly, we donned a heavy vest with lights showing our team colours and bearing the name that we would be known by on the score sheets.  My new name was Cyberman and my husband’s feminine side was underlined by being called Catwoman.  Each team had a base area which gave an extra score of 2,000 points if you shot your opponents’ base in the right place.  I thought that this was a brilliant idea until I saw my score afterwards – I  had managed to shoot the Blue Base twice but it had shot me four times !  My competitive spirit was absent initially as I was shot by Caroline and just stood there bent double with laughter.  Caroline waited patiently for my 6 second wipe out to be over and promptly shot me again. Despite my poor efforts my team, Yellow, won all three games because Pauline (aka Davros) made up for my scores and in fact was the overall individual winner. Similarly the Red Team was supported by Pam Bailey (Superman!) who was the most accurate achieving 35 per cent accuracy.  The team needed this to come second as my husband Alan’s contribution over the three games was less than 10 per cent accuracy. As “the new kids on the block” we had a fantastic evening and look forward to the rest of the year.

Orienteering (Version 1) - Article by Mary Frost

This was my first outing with the group having only joined this month! Pauline rang me to ask if I could pick up another member in Kettering,”no problem” says I,except that I have only been in Kettering since December,luckily I managed to pick up Hilary without getting lost so first part of orienteering over, then off to find the country park. Slight de-tour, (must visit Brigstock again!), we arrived!!
Couldn't miss the start point.......lots of people suitably dressed ready for the off.....teams put together, maps and instructions given out and we set off at the given time by Pauline.My team aptly named 'Lost' consisted of Sandra, Dave, Keith, Hilary and of course me! The only one of us that had 'Orienteered' before was Keith,that was not going to put us off so off we trotted.......on our hunt for the lettered post to show the way round and the 'luggage labels' containing the quiz questions.......the 'boys' went ahead eager to forge the way, Sandra, Hilary and I enjoyed the countryside, slipped and slid over the mud, sorry, paths, chatting as we went, actually there was a lot of giggling and laughing especially by me! We passed the other teams who were also rather muddy but in good spirits, then Nigel, on a very muddy bike found us, if only we had listened to the instructions........we had been doing the whole route not just the letters we had been given.
Two hours later saw us back at base camp, coffee, snack and” post-Orienteering” chat with our fellow club members. We never did remember to find out what the fantastic bird that soared over our heads was. It was a great fun, everyone very friendly and I can't wait for the next 'do'....to our amazement we the 'Lost Team' didn't come last. Now which way is home....hopefully will see you at 'the Redwell' on the 8th.


orient-1 orient-2

Who said it might be a little damp in places !!
All back and still smiling !!

Orienteering (Version 2) - Article by Carol Pullen

I am brand new to the 50+ Adventure Club and had two worries before the day. Firstly the weather forecast all the previous week had been for rain and gales and I was not sure if I would enjoy it in wet weather and secondly I had never been orienteering and thought it was usually run with compasses and maps, by very athletic looking people!! I need not have worried on either score – the weather was a glorious spring morning and if the members of the Club are athletic it didn’t show and the course was not covered at a run! We were divided into 6 teams, with each group being given a map and an answer sheet. Each team came up with its own name and I was in Almost Desborough. It wasn’t until nearly the end that I realised that we were not expected to answer all the 19 questions, We had to find the lettered posts indicated on our maps and somewhere close by would be a luggage label with a general knowledge question to answer. Though the walking was mostly on solid paths there were some areas of very muddy and quite deep puddles so stout boots and Wellingtons were the footwear. After about two hours of very pleasant walking, chatting, searching and map reading we arrived back at the start to have a reviving snack in the cafeteria. The results of the quiz were read out and the winning team received their prizes in the Club’s new ‘gazebo’. Times would only be taken into account if there had been a tie on the quiz. Thanks to Pauline Ashby and Nigel Cross for all their hard work in organising a very enjoyable, and not too athletic, activity

Local walk around the Raunds Area – Article by Maggie Marshall

My second outing with the 50+ club, on the first I learnt Club rule No.1 - All activities involve getting wet, dirty or muddy”! But no-one mentioned snow!!! We woke up on Sunday morning to a white world – 2-3 inches of snow in Wellingborough! However, we were not deterred and duly arrived at the meeting point in Raunds along with another 17 hardy walkers. Linda checked us in and we chose our lunch (for several hours later). We set off at a steady pace following Dave our walk leader through the byways of Raunds, which were full of quirky buildings and old cottages in interesting streets like ‘Rotten Row’. Emerging into the countryside we crossed fields to the small industrial estate and then the splendid views towards Ringstead and Stanwick lakes opened up. Bravely we crossed the A45 and went down through Ringstead village, then onto Kinewell lake. Round the lake and we saw the first swallows of summer skimming across the water. Halfway and we stopped briefly by Willy Watts marina enough time for us to have look at the Mill Race and the boats. We then turned back towards Ringstead picking up the Nene way across the fields back to Raunds. This was the prettiest bit of the walk round Mile Field and along the stream (after we passed the sewage works).Arriving safely back at Raunds we hastened to the Globe, the promise of lunch, a drink and of course the loos. We were made very welcome, the food soon appeared - a delicious Sunday roast for most of us and some weretempted by a dessert to follow.All were agreed it was a good walk with excellent views, the snow disappeared early, the pace was nice and gentle and we finished off with a sociable Sunday lunch. Thanks to Linda and Dave for organising this.

Cycle ride at Ferry Meadows Country Park, Peterborough – Article by Les Carter

cycle ride at grafham waterHaving arrived at the Watersports Centre car park, we were a total of 18 cyclists, 7 of which hired their bikes from the hire shop. Whilst some of us were regular cyclists others were a little apprehensive as it had been a long time since they had ridden a bike.At 11.15 with the weather overcast and thundery showers forecast off we went 18 cyclists on 17 bikes (Nigel and Pauline on a tandem).Run by the NENE CHARITY TRUST, the park has lakes, woodland and vast open play areas it is an ideal site for whole family orientated enjoyment(as well as the over 50s). The route took us past these areas and a golf course and the Nene Valley Railway, then over the river and into a pedestrian part of town, down an underpass past the Key Theatre and back to the riverbank path, we continued along this path until it joined a new tarmac path that led to Whittlesea (4 miles away).At this point we turned round and made our way back to town, a good view of the Cathedral was seen (so were the dark rain clouds). On leaving the town we cycled a different route along the riverbank towards our lunch destination, the Boathouse pub. Along the way the rain clouds decided it was time we got a bit wet. Some of the group stopped to put on waterproofs the rest continued and within about 5 minutes we had arrived at the pub and the rain had stopped. As we had pre-booked lunch we had reserved tables so seating was not a problem. At this point we were joined by 3 members who had walked, Grace, Ann and Peta. Whilst we were enjoying our lunch the heavens opened up and it poured, fortunately by the time we were ready to resume our ride it had stopped raining. It was then a leisurely 3 ½ mile ride back to the car park passing the rowing course and Sculpture park on the way. Total mileage was approx 12 miles.

Many thanks to Paul for organising a very enjoying bike rideP.S. I hope all you riders were not too saddle sore.

Derbyshire Walk - Article by Marilyn Hill

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Welcome break Nearly there Hurray the summit!!
They called the activity a Derbyshire Walk of about 7/8 miles…..no problem we thought - let’s give it a go! Up at the break of dawn, we met up with the others and 14 of us set off in the mini bus to Edale the start of the Pennine Way. Weather was overcast and a little on the chilly side, but once we got walking we soon warmed up.
Tony and I were thinking this is a nice pleasant ramble then the climb to the top started. We really turned int mountain goats at this point, and my little legs had to stretch in angles that I never knew were possible. Victory…. we made it to the top of Kinder Scout and the view was spectacular…..because of the 60 m.p.h. winds which kept the clouds away we had a good view all round, it did not matter that we could hardly stand without being blown over! Our trusty guides turned to the map ready for our descent down (I was very pleased we were not going down the way we came up!) We found some large rocks and stopped for our lunch, but the central heating was not very good and with frozen fingers we set off on our next challenge…the Bogs. Tony, Mike and Les led the path, although I had to look twice when one of our party decided to suddenly change from a nice blue jacket, to a black and blue one, or maybe this person has been told how good mud is for the skin.
Eventually we got back onto the Pennine Way and the final leg of our trek where the men were starting to smell the beer, and by now, we were all starting to feel rather weary and in need of sustenance. One member of our group just could not wait her turn to go over the last stile and decided to charge at the wall instead, we think it was the two nice young men who were coming in the opposite direction that caught her eye…..they just happened to be two male nurses. At any rate, bless her…she had a few good cuts and bruises to show for her effort and still had a great sense of humour.
This was our first activity with the 50+ Adventure Club and we enjoyed every minute of it…just looking at what we can do next. Thanks to all for making us feel very welcome and making it a very memorable day!

Thrapston Street Rally – Article by Sandra Turner

winners On arrival Ann asked us to form teams and choose a name. The six teams departed at ten minute intervals armed with quiz paper and pen. Our team “Lost & Found” got of to a fine start working well together.  As the evening  progressed we passed other members clutching their pens and question papers and friendly exchanges took place. Sadly, it did start to rain  lightly but it didn't seem to dampen anyone  spirits.  We did  receive a  few  funny  looks  from  the locals,  I  suppose  it must  have  seemed  strange seeing  various
groups  of  people  walking  up  and  down  the  High  Street  with puzzled  looks  on  their  faces!!   After  completing  the  30 questions  we  returned  to  the  hall  where  there  were  lots  of  happy  chattering  people. We  then  tucked  into  piping  hot  fish and chips that went down well with everyone.  Then  the  moment  of  truth  was  upon  us:  who  had  the  most correct answers?  There was lots of lively banter but Ann stood her ground and her decision was final even though at times she was doubled up in laughter with some of the answers. The team with the most points was "The Infamous 5", well done to them .   Thank you Ann for arranging an enjoyable evening.
The winners !  

Go Kart Racing   – Article by Alan Mossop

group karting k-winners
The race team Go for it !! On the podium
Everyone turned up early for the event and had a picnic under a shady tree on a beautiful sunny day.  Having  chosen  helmets,  overalls  and  gloves  we  were  given  our  safety  instructions  and  the  track  layout  was explained.  We each had a few practice laps and then the real fun began!  We each took part in 6 heats  (the right word for them bundled up as we were  in the hot sun)  and the competitive  spirits came to the fore. Great fun,  with one or two bumps and slides, and then on to the semi finals and of course the final. Just as in Formula 1 racing there was a podium and a bottle of champers for the first three – the winner also got a T shirt.   Ann was the winner followed by Tony second and Dennis third – who says women can’t drive?   Mike, Pauline and Les were 4th, 5th and 6th respectively. Well done and thank you to Richard and Janette for organising a really great day out and we are looking forward to it again next year. 

Wherry Trip  - Article by Richard Coles

wherry1 It was threatening rain as we set off on our morning walk from Potter Heigham bridge along the river Thurne to Womack water and returning across the fields. It was a good walk, especially for any budding “twitchers” as we watched a barn owl hunting across the fields and marshes for his lunch only to be outdone by a sparrow hawk which caught a small vole very close to us, we could almost hear its cries for help as it was whisked skywards!  Then we saw a small deer roaming the fields - a very rare sighting in this area according to our skipper. Then the inevitable happened - it rained, so it was time for a pub lunch. The afternoon walk was long but interesting; however we did not see much wildlife until just before the end when we were lucky to see a pair of Marsh harriers flying over the wetlands next to the bird hide. The next morning found us all at the quayside having our safety talk before boarding the Wherry Albion. Having quanted out into the mainstream we then sailed along the river to one of the Broads where we had our lunch. Some of the more adventurous among us walked to the nearby church and climbed the 100 steps to the top of the tower, where good views over Broadland could be found.Our return to Womack water was faster because the wind had freshened and we had taken out two reefs from the black loose footed sail.  A very enjoyable day and perhaps next time a few of us might like to stay overnight on the wherry so that we can sail further down the Broads.

Canoeing – Article by Peta Jellis

It was windy  –  very windy.   But we were  canoeing,  so why  should  that  concern  us?   We  soon  found  out!   It  is extremely difficult to paddle into a headwind where the water had little crests of white.  Blissfully unaware, we paired up and got into our canoe.  I chose John West as I knew him to be a good sailor and delegated him the job of helm.  Getting in and out of a canoe is really tricky as they are horrid, tippy things close to the water but in order to try to avoid the headwind, we had to do this 4 times.  This I thought was pushing our luck a bit but each time, it was achieved without mishap.  I was ill prepared to find myself swimming after being stuck broadside in a narrow part of the river and negotiating bushes backwards.  I still don’t know how it happened,  one minute I was holding onto a bush wondering how we were going to get  out  of  this  predicament,  and  the  next,  I  was wallowing in very cold water!   We all struggled with the headwind and eventually, Rich  –  one  of  the  Frontier  Instructors  –  got  the motor  boat  to  tow  us  ignominiously  back  to  the quay.   This was  not without  its  adventure!   We  all had  to  hold  on  to  each  others’  boats  so  that  we were  7  abreast  and  then  went  whizzing  down  the river only  to be met by a canal boat coming  in  the opposite direction round a bend!  I don’t think they were expecting to find that!   It is lovely canoeing along the Nene normally and at least the sun did shine.   But oh, how my arms hurt the  following  day  through  using  muscles  that  I didn’t know I had.  It’s funny you know, I walked out the front door without taking a change of clothes, but then turned round to get some.   I must have had  some sort of sixth sense! Thanks to Rich and DJ for their hard work in rescuing so many people – we did enjoy ourselves though.

Canal Boat Trip – Article by Shirley and Gary




5.30am – Up with the sun. A good journey up (only had to ask once!). The car park was a bit small but we managed to fit in. After greetings and stowing food on “Rumble”, a dash for toilets before casting off. Just as well after hearing the instructions from the lady from the boatyard. She came to give lifejackets to those who wanted them and instructions on running the boat amongst which was: Toilet .. leave lid down to flush – this was tried by one intrepid lady who nearly pumped her arm off trying – the rest of us decided to wait until we moored for lunch.  As no.one on our boat had experience of steering Les volunteered, which caused some hilarity as he has a reputation for falling in / capsizing near any water. Anyway, off we set with rain now pouring down. Oh for the 5.30 sun. Trying to take pictures of “Fumble”, our sister boat, through rain spattered polythene windows was not easy

1st lock of 2  Carol and Ann armed with lock keys jumped on to land with a few “helpers”. We manoeuvred both boats in but one on each side instead of in a line. Another boat was trying to get in as well and we had more manoeuvering to get him in, then another boat came, so by the time we had finished there were four of us squashed in. All was achieved in the end with much hilarity and probably despair from “Captain Birdseye”, as Gary called him, who seemed to know what he was doing, although he did thank us. Still raining but kettle now boiled for tea/coffee (very welcome) Janette did a good job. Not much wildlife but we did see a pair of swans with their cygnets. Quite a few drakes but only two ducks, the rest were probably on their nests. We did see a heron on the way back in the distance. By now I had realised that we all had to take a turn at steering so I tried to look inconspicuous in a corner but I did help to open locks. We didn’t have too many mishaps but I did have to duck at one point when a lot of bush came through the window (fortunately open).
2nd lock of 2  Carol and Ann again wielding keys and quite a few of us still “supervising”. The lock was safely negotiated and off we went again. By this time the rain had stopped and although the sun didn’t appear it was very pleasant with the plastic windows rolled up
3rd lock of 2  Spot the mistake! We thought  that there were only 2, but there it loomed. I think we all, apart from the “skippers” got off this time..
4th lock of 2  The last one before we moored on a grassy bank above which was a very nice pub. Exodus for loo’s and bar. Once refreshed we sat down for a picnic lunch with vast amounts of food on both boats, and it was all very enjoyable.
Journey back.   By this time it was realised that I had not steered, so up I went. Les said “I will say to me or to Mick” . simple enough I thought. Wrong! He kept saying “to Mick” when it should have been “to me”. Never mind, I got the hang of it by ignoring him and steered a reasonably straight line and actually enjoyed it. Further down the river we did nearly take out a tree (not me) and there was a scramble to get out of the way but we did survive although the boat must have a few more war wounds. 
Then it was time for tea and cake. All very nice and fattening. We finally negotiated the last lock and moored for a quick clearing of evidence of trees etc. So that all was shipshape for arrival back at the boatyard. After another quick dash for loo’s and the farewells we
headed home. Can’t wait for next time. PS. Les did not fall in!
Good company, Good food, Good fun. Thanks to Paul for organizing the event. 

Go Ape – Article by Campbell (poem) and Jacqy (typing and footnote) McNinch

Twelve brave adventurers, waiting in the sun.
Sherwood Pines 'G0 Ape', supposedly good fun!
Coffee first, sausage rolls, get ourselves well fed,           
Off we go, full of joy, to the 'Safety Shed'. 
Fill the form, tick the box, sign away your life.
If you fall, your own fault, we will phone the wife.
Instructor comes, very young, for the safety talk,
Harness fitted, very tight, difficult to walk.
Showed us how to clip to wire just to make us safe,
Very nervous, start to sweat, will the harness chafe?
Off we go. monkey.like, up amongst the trees,
Different obstacles lie ahead, much shaking of the knees.
Ropes and wires, boards and stirrups, which way shall we go?
Green way easy, black extreme, floor wahay down below.
Friends all help, how to clip, is the harness right?
Zip wire comes, off we go, many scream with fright.
Cargo net very hard, feet all in a tangle,
Legs go one way, not the other, all is dingle.dangle.
Look ahead, how far now, rest of group has finished.
We continue, last three zips, fear has now diminished.
Just as we get the knack. Go Ape course completed.
Can we go again we ask, but we're overheated.
Picnic lunch amongst the trees, lots of cheerful chatter,
We may be 50+ and more, but that don't really matter.

It was a fantastic day. Wall to wall sunshine. Laughter top of the menu. Meeting lovely new friends and catching up with old ones, made this day out one of the most memorable of our 50+ experiences. Oh and then there was the 'Go Ape'. Fabulous.
Thank you everyone: organisers; friends; Sherwood Pines and of course the WEATHER FAIRY

Disc Golf - Article by Pauline Ashby



Nigel and I arrived very early –Wow, there’s a first – and were just wondering whether we had the date right when the other 7 people arrived.  We headed across the course to the Club House to meet Del, the owner.  After a demonstration of throwing techniques we were given a Frisbee each and, standing side by side, we all had a few practise throws.
 The Frisbees are thrown into a metal basket with chains on it (see Photo) and the course is set out like a Golf course.  We split into 2 groups and set off in opposite directions to do 9 holes (or should I say “baskets”?).   Each “hole” is different, with slopes, trees and bends to test your skill at manoeuvring a thin plastic disc with a flick of the wrist.  Much merriment was had when they landed in trees, but on the whole I think we did very well.  After about an hour and a half we met back at the Club House and decided to go our separate ways for lunch.Disc Golf is growing in popularity in this country (and is huge in America). There are lots of different discs (like there are golf clubs), and Del let me have a go with some of his. I spent a lovely half hour playing with these, whilst Nigel discussed the technicalities with Del.
I would recommend this sport to everyone, and hope that a course is set up nearer to us soon.  Del has actually drawn up plans for 3 courses at Irchester Country Park but as yet has not heard anything from them.

Bala Weekend- Article by Hilary Connon

The first adventure for this weekend virgin started on Friday 27th  June at the Coach House – find the best bunk house (we won – having claimed our own self contained unit, instead of sharing a shower between 12 people!).  Due to the weather it was already Plan B for the weekend’s  activities  and  the  rafting  was moved to Sunday.
Cooking breakfast on Saturday morning was also an  adventure  and  it  took  the  sterling efforts of  the crew  to keep 20  people fed with only one decent frying  pan,  a  grill and an oven  that  needed a 6am  start  up  to get warm.   Despite the challenges it was tasty, plentiful and much appreciated.
Armed with  our  packups we  set  off  on  a 4 mile  walk  around  Bala  lake. Some of  the gradients  were pretty steep but  the spectacular views were well worth it,  plus the rain  held off!  After  a  picnic  at  a viewpoint we set off down to the lakeside and had a steam train ride back to base. Lucy,  Linda  and  Ann  went  on  an  alternative  journey  also  taking  the  train  and  then  watching  the  Eisteddfod  parade.  Lucy found a friend and followed the Druids to watch their ceremony.

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The next adventure was a foodie one.   We went to the Bryntirion Inn for an early supper.  The food was so good we almost applauded as each new dish arrived.   Especially the Welsh black beef casserole served in a Bryn bara, which  Arthur  and  John  gamely  tackled.  As  for  the  desserts  – mouthgasm  comes  to mind…!    It  was  sooooo difficult to choose, but so easy to eat.   Stuart and Jenny sensuously shared a Movenpick chocolate temptation experience.
Still more fun to come as we partied the night away back at the bunk house.  It had a slow start as none of the ‘gateau  blasters’(?)  were  working,  despite  John’s  DIY  efforts  with  two  carving  knives.   Highlights  included dancing  around and over a Boddingtons bitter can (Stuart  got  a  little  closer  to  it  than  the  rest  of  us),  limbo dancing and a conga line.  I recklessly launched into a barefoot gymnastics display and ended up in a crash landing with a bruised ego as well as a bruised toe.

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Next morning was the final and most exhilarating adventure at the National Whitewater Centre.  Squeezing into impossibly  tight  and  freezing  cold wet  suits  and boots,  trussed  up  like  chickens with  tight  flotation  vests  and helmets so that we could hardly breathe, we started our training on the rafts. We had four very different, but equally  exciting  runs braving  the  rapids  down  the  thrilling Tryweryn  river.   As we became more  confident  our guide sent us into ever deeper and wetter experiences whilst we were able to hear Lucy screaming her head off in another raft from a great distance.   Water battles followed between our two rafts after being rammed.  It was the best adventure ever. Can’t wait until next year.  
A huge thank you to the organisers of such a great weekend.

Click here  to see more Bala pictures

Petanque – Article by Maggie Marshall


On warm summer’s evening we met promptly at the White Hart at Lyddington  in deepest Leicestershire, well actually it was just over the border!
The rules for the game were explained by the  local expert, Sam, who then split us  into teams of 3 each,  ladies versus gentleman. The idea was to get as near as possible to the cosh (jack in English bowl) by throwing the Boule overarm – not quite the same technique as bowling a cricket ball!!  The first team to reach 13 points would be the winner. Much hilarity ensued with more than a little gamesmanship between the sexes before time was called at 8.30pm. With 4 groups playing the honours were even 2 games to the ladies and 2 to the gentlemen.   
Just  time  for quick wash and  then  it was  into dinner, Jane helped us  to  remember  our choices  (lots of  senior moments). Mains were followed by yummy desserts STP (sticky toffee pudding) or crème brulee. Coffee and petit fours to finish the meal rounded off the evening nicely.
A most enjoyable outing making the most of long summer evening. Jane and Dennis celebrated their anniversary in some good company and our thanks go to them for organising things.

Multi Activity Day 

  • 1) Quad biking – Article by Peta Jellis

quad Quad bikes with GEARS!   Hell, haven’t I got enough to think about just remaining perpendicular and not running off  into  the  swamps  and bushes?   Well,  actually,  once  you  got  the hang  of  them,  gears were much  safer  than braking I found.  But I think I frustrated Keith and Pauline who wanted to belt along twice as fast as I felt safe in  travelling.  “No  overtaking”  Ben,  our instructor  said!   Well,  I  should  think  not  as there  was  hardly  enough  room  for  one  bike along many  of  the  paths  let  alone  2  abreast.  But that didn’t stop Keith whizzing past me at the end when the road opened out!  When you reach a certain age, it is important to get the adrenaline  pumping.    “Use  it,  or  lose  it”  they say.   Well, my adrenaline  is working very well thank  you  very  much,  and  judging  from  the comments from all 7 of us at the end, the 50+ Adventure Club kept up to  its high standards for adrenaline maintenance.

  • 2) Amphibious Vehicle – Article by Keith Merrick

amphib It was beautiful weather for a picnic lunch, and soon we were off to the amphibious vehicle, an eight wheel drive truck with a design  fault that I noticed straight away no steering wheel! We were so poor at driving this that the instructor decided that we were
not  safe  to  venture  on  to  the  offroad  course  (a LandRover  had  just  rolled  onto  its  side),  so we alpacked onto the vehicle and he drove us around. I am still a little deaf from the squeals of  fear from the other passengers as we went  around  the  course. At one point we stopped on top  of  a  near  vertical  drop but  the  little  vehicle  took  it  all  in  its  stride  though and we were soon safely back for the next activity.
  • 3) Clay Pigeon Shooting – Article by Sally and Gordon Shone

clay The  last  activity  of  the  afternoon  at  the  Avalanche Adventure Centre, was clay pigeon shooting.  Only six of us partook of this activity but we were ably instructed  by  Ben  who  put  us  through  our  paces. 
Having walked through the woods to the shooting area, we donned ear defenders and  were instructed  in  the safety  procedures  of  gun  handling.  We  each  had  25 clays to aim  at,  more of  which were missed  than successfully  hit.  Our  group  consisted  of Carol,  Peta, Janette,  Richard, Sally  & Gordon  also  known  as  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids, spurred on by intrigued onlookers in the name of Pauline, Lucy and Keith.
We all thoroughly enjoyed the occasion but don’t think we will make the 2012 Olympics !

Microlighting – Article by AnnLouise Stead

microlightingVery overcast weather.  Three would be aviators – Caroline, Arthur and I, eventually arrived at C10 Aerosports, Deenethorpe, having driven round the neighbourhood for ages as the sign for the Aerosports was unfortunately almost  totally overgrown by  foliage!     Our  pilot for  the day was Simon James, who was  taking us on board his Flash II Alpha two seater Microlight, complete with 582 rotex engine and capable of doing speeds of 70 mph.  Having  given  you  the  technicalities,  I  can  now  tell  you  that  our Micro  light  was  bright  red  and  looked  very exciting indeed. 
I was first to take to the air, duly kitted out in padded flying suit, helmet and visor, thick gloves, and “miked up” to  our  pilot. I was  followed by Caroline and  then  Arthur.    As  there  was  a  bad cross wind, we took off from the grass runway.  We each had 20 minutes in the air, flying at 1600 ft at a wVery overcast weather.  Three would be aviators – Caroline, Arthur and I, eventually arrived at C10 Aerosports, Deenethorpe, having driven round the neighbourhood for ages as the sign for the Aerosports was unfortunately almost  totally overgrown by  foliage!     Our  pilot for  the day was Simon James, who was  taking us on board his Flash II Alpha twoseater Microlight, complete with 582 rotex engine and capable of doing speeds of 70 mph.  Having  given  you  the  technicalities,  I  can  now  tell  you  that  our Micro  light  was  bright  red  and  looked  very exciting indeed. 
I was first to take to the air, duly kitted out in padded flying suit, helmet and visor, thick gloves, and “miked up” to  our  pilot. I was  followed by Caroline and  then  Arthur.    As  there  was  a  bad cross wind, we took off from the grass runway.  We each had 20 minutes in the air, flying at 1600 ft at a wind speed of 12mph,  gusting  20.    It  was  incredibly exciting, very cold and windy – a bit like being on the back of a flying motorbike! 
Our  pilot  outlined  everything  we  were flying over and it was really interesting.  It  only  seemed  like  10  minutes  before we were on the ground again.
Having  had  a  refreshing  cuppa  at  the Red  Kite Café  (we  saw  quite  a  few  red kites  circling  overhead),  and  feeling thoroughly  invigorated,  we  headed  for home, having had a day to remember.ind speed of 12mph,  gusting  20.    It  was  incredibly exciting, very cold and windy – a bit like being on the back of a flying motorbike! 
Our  pilot  outlined  everything  we  were flying over and it was really interesting.  It  only  seemed  like  10  minutes  before we were on the ground again.
Having  had  a  refreshing  cuppa  at  the Red  Kite Café  (we  saw  quite  a  few  red kites  circling  overhead),  and  feeling thoroughly  invigorated,  we  headed  for home, having had a day to remember.

Wye Valley  Week-end – Article by Carol Pullen



Deep in the Black Mountains in Wales is the Tregoyd Pony Trekking Centre at Cadarn where we were staying in the bunkhouse and our first activity. Kitted out in helmets we were allowed into the horse yard and were introduced to our mounts.  I was on Mungo who was very docile, as were the others.  After receiving instructions on how to get on and off we then had to mount.  A great deal of laughter and encouragement especially as I struggled to get my foot in the stirrup, a little hop, swing the leg over and there you are!!  Well that is the theory and the others managed it, but not me!!  I gave up and had to use the mounting block, which even then was a struggle. 
The trek was glorious up into the Black Mountains, with clear views over to the Brecon Beacons.  We saw a herd of wild ponies which inhabit these hills and unlike other wild ponies in the country are never rounded up.  As they had foals with them  we had to give them a wide berth.  This was very exciting because they are shy of company.  Jo, our instructor and leader, then said “Come on Adventure Club, let’s be adventurous”, so down into steep gullies and up the other side.  Stomach churning but fun!  After three hours of riding we arrived back at the stables, to dismount bow legged and sore but very elated after a great afternoon.  A drink and meal in the pub later was very welcome.
Up early the next day and off to Glasbury on Wye to start our canoeing adventure.  After instruction and a little practice we set off.  We were the first group on the river and it was very quiet with another clear blue sky.  We had already decided to paddle the 5 miles to Hay on Wye and stop for a break.  On the way we had a steer a way through small ‘rapids’ to prevent grounding where the water was very shallow.  Holes in the banks of the Wye are home to nesting sand martins, which we saw flying in and out.  There were herons, a cormorant and buzzards gliding in the thermals overhead.  We beached the canoes at Hay and had a short look round the town before another 6 mile canoe down to the Boat Inn near Whitney on Wye.  We all successfully negotiated the spot on the river where we were likely to capsize and arriving at the inn I realised that during the weekend we had avoided the 50+ ‘F’ word – falling over, off or in!!  We all agreed that it had been a really enjoyable weekend and thanked Jeremy Furnish for organising it.

Punting and fun in Cambridge (1) - Article by Anne Cook

It’s great when an event goes well – everyone enjoys themselves – the sun shines and I personally come home absolutely whacked. Such was this weekend’s event THE PUNTING.  Twenty of us went on the Cam in 4 little wooden boats, several taking turns to propel them along with a 10 foot pole.  Nerve-racking for some (well maybe most of us) but great fun, I just needed a drink afterwards to calm the nerves.  Following on was a picnic and fun and games in the park, then a meal at the pub to end a very full day.   Thank you everyone who took part for making it such a good day.

punting on the cam 1

punting on the cam 2

Punting and fun in Cambridge(2) - Article by Les Carter

cambridgeSo there we were - 20 intrepid souls at Magdalene bridge at 11.00am on a bright windy morning, eagerly waiting (?) to embark on our punts for a fun filled hour on the Cam. Off we went 5 to a punt heading into a very stiff breeze. In our punt were Pauline, Ann, Glenis, Geoff and myself. Pauline started to punt away from the dock but the conditions made it extremely difficult to manoeuvre, so we got to the side and swapped places. Well - talk about ZIG ZAGGING I found it just as difficult and at one point got the quant jammed under the punt and as I tried to free it, overbalanced, but with extreme luck another punt was along side us so I stepped onto this punt, freed the quant and stepped back onto our punt, otherwise it would have been an early bath. We turned round at about the ¾ mark and in true Naval tradition press-ganged Ann into having a go. “Just to the end of the college lawn” we said.  With Pauline in the front paddling to keep it straight we soon passed the end of the lawn and with Ann still quanting and the wind behind us in no time at all we were back to Magdalene bridge where the others were cheering us home
Then it was off to a local watering hole (pub) for a well earned drink before going to Jesus Green to have our picnic lunch.  The afternoon was spent playing a variety of games, croquet, armchair quoits, rounders and finally French Boule. During this time we were fortunate to have a free jazz session going on in the park. As the events drew to a close some made their way home whilst the rest of us made our way to the “Boathouse” for an early evening meal before  going our separate ways home.So many thanks to Ann for arranging good weather and organising a very enjoyable day.

Lake District activity weekend

  • Overview - article by Diane West

“The Lake District is totally and utterly beautiful BUT there is a price to pay and over the weekend we paid it over and over – wet, wet, wet!!  However, for the 22 intrepid Adventurers it was a great weekend.  The YHA is set in attractive grounds in Grasmere – an ideal location for getting out and about and the food is very good, especially the STP
Summitreks organised our Saturday activities with keen, conscientious, enthusiastic instructors.  Some of us were first timers on some of the activities and the aquaseiling and gorge scrambling were very challenging.  The Via Ferrata was organised by Jane and those of us who did it, probably was the high spot of the weekend – in all senses of the word.  However, we all did brilliantly – comments of “adrenaline rush” “buzz” and “terrific” were heard all around.  One instructor said how impressed he was that we had done so well and helped each other.  Well we would, wouldn’t we?  We can feel proud of our achievements. 
An enormous THANK YOU to Jane for her meticulous planning and organisation and for the Designated Drivers, who got us all to the right place at the right time.  A superb weekend – roll on next year”
  • Coniston by Campbell McNinch

lakes4 On blowy Coniston one day                                                                  
Out went the paddlers eight.
No feelings of unease from them, 
No sense of fear or fright.
Lucy, Dennis, Jacqy went,
And Mike and Jane and Tony
Trish and Campbell too
Prepared for wetness through and through.
Our Tutor, Phil, was very calm,                            
“I think we'll make two rafts
It'll give us more stability,                     
No chance of sinking fast”.
He himself had canoe alone,
lakes1 He was the sheepdog boat. 
Swooping round and keeping check,
Keeping us afloat.
The outward trip was very good,
The waves made it a lark,
The tearoom soon was very close
We only had to park.
After lovely sustenance,
(Meringues the size of Wales!!!)
We happily set off for home,
Against the howling gales.
“Aim for the waterfall, we'll reach that shore”
Called out brave leader Phil.
lakes5 We paddled as fast as we could, 
Scared the boat would fill.
 Phil decided we would fail                              
And never reach the shore.
He climbed aboard the trailing raft
And joined the panting four.
Eventually we reached the land
And collapsed past the waves.
Phil turned round and paddled back
The other craft to save.
When all were safely gathered in
We're still some way from base,
Phil pulled the boats around the head
While we walked on apace.
We walked along, we climbed a fence,
Then had to ford a beck,
Safely dry after crossing Lake,
It was now our feet got wet.
One last paddle through the boats,
We ended with a race.
Safely home, much relieved,
No S.O.S. to send.
Canoes stowed, off we set,
What a tale to tell,
Remembering that old saying,
“All's well that ends well”.

  • Gorge Walking - article by Liz Parker and Suzanne Dewart

gorge1 gorge2
The weather was fairly inclement and because of the very high rainfall levels we weren’t sure if we would be able to do the gorge walking. Luckily the rain stopped on Saturday morning and we got the go ahead. We were all very excited  and  were given our wet suits and told to put layers of clothes on to keep warm. The hardest part of the adventure was getting into the wet suits. 
As we walked to the river we were eagerly looking forward to our session and the instructors explained a little about gorging and that we had to be careful because of high water and fast flowing currents. We were going to have to work together as a team and help each other.
There were about ten of us and as soon as we arrived it was straight into the water and within thirty seconds were up to our necks in it. That came as a shock to most of us but everyone was thrilled and expectation of a great time was in the air.
We climbed and scrambled our way over rocks and pools, sometimes on all fours gripping tightly, being pushed and pulled as we helped each other upstream. We jumped off rocks into deep pools, glided down  small stretches of  fast flowing water and laughed as we helped and encouraged each other.  It was a totally exhilarating experience.  The instructors were brilliant, encouraging us to climb on ledges and up waterfalls which looked impossible, but we managed it and got so many thrills and a great sense of achievement.  Everybody had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Roll on next year!!!
  • Aquaseiling - article by Tricia Booth

aquaseiling in the lake districtHaving modelled the latest in wet suits (Trinny and Suzanna would have said something like “love your body” or “just have a good laugh”) we bundled into the Land Rover and set off up a rough track, hitting the roof a few times on the way – not too bad if you had your helmet on!  At our destination, we all had a practice with the ropes attached to the tow bar before setting off into the raging torrents, where the rocks were very slippery and losing your footing meant not only getting wet but danger of being washed over the waterfall that we were about to abseil – not a good idea but guess who lost it!  Luckily, I found a handy rock to grab or this story would have been told by some else.  Having reached a big boulder, the instructor took us one by one to the industrial washing machine to start the descent and, once over the two holes that the force of the water had made, and feet pushed firmly on the rocks, we were on the way down.  Help was at hand at the bottom to stand us on our feet and we could watch the next mad club member have a power shower from Mother Nature.
Well done everyone and thanks for a great weekend.   Special thanks to Jane for all the hard work that went into organising it
  • Via Ferrata (the iron road) - article by Lucy Oliver-Carton

  • lakes7 lake7
Suitably attired we set off up grass clad slopes in a mini-bus.  Personally I thought it would be a doddle after the ‘elasticating’ stretching of personal boundaries abseiling down a waterfall of yesterday. How wrong this was to prove.
We entered a long dark wet tunnel and emerged to see an enormous, awe inspiring craggy rock face which stretched into the clouds. It suddenly hit me that this was going to be very challenging indeed.
After familiarising ourselves with the safety clipping technique on and off steel cables set into the rocks we edged slowly upwards, constantly wet as we crept past water cascading down, swinging around crags and often nearly doing the splits.
The foreboding eventually gave way to sheer exhilaration and a huge sense of achievement as we all extended ourselves.  We all supported and encouraged each other as each difficulty was overcome.  As it got ever more challenging the excitement and energy mounted.
I looked at a horizontal ladder connecting two crags with nothing to hold onto and thought ‘I can do it’ and so we went to the top of Fleetwith Pike, 2,216 feet high and immersed in clouds.  When we burst out of the last tunnel it was total elation.
I think we were all full of adrenalin and collective camaraderie and we hugged each other as everyone slowly emerged from a fantastic adventure.  Thanks to everyone for their company and friendship and to Jane for her meticulous organisation.
Note: From the leaflet on another route on zip wires “Fly through the air with the greatest of ease” (not for the faint hearted) – maybe for a future visit!
  • Sunday walk - article by Ann Cook

buttermere walkLuck was with us on this last morning of our weekend in the Lakes, it had stopped raining.  In need of a bit more exercise to work off another large breakfast we set off in the direction of Buttermere.   Now for those who do not know the Lake District well this was the most scenic of rides up to Keswick with even better views down the side of Derwent Water and over Honister Pass to Buttermere.  Having left most of the ‘gang’ at the slate mine on the way, eight of us carried on to the village.
Jane had already given us a map to follow so all should have been straight forward, but the most difficult part was finding our way out of the car park and on to the start of our route around the lake. That was the only problem and we all soon started to enjoy the awesome scenery even though there were one or two short showers. There were plenty of stops for photos, scenic, artistic and ‘romantic’.   Time went all too quickly for me and I think everyone else enjoyed the walk as much as I did.

We met up with the others back at the mine for lunch before having to set off home after another great weekend.

Sailing at Grafham water centre - Article by Jane Mills

sailing on grafham waterIt  was  on  a  cloudless,  cool  day  that  the intrepid  fifty  plussers  set  out  to  go sailing.  We  were  given  options  of  going into  either  a  whammel  -  a  seven  seated boat  with  an  instructor  -  or  a  fun  boat that  you  sailed  yourself.  Some  more experienced sailors and some of the more adventurous, chose  the fun boats  and got themselves  kitted  up  in  all  the  safety gear. I did not feel safe sailing on my own, so opted for the Whammel. The Whammel people  got  kitted  up  and  we  were  off  - taking turns to steer the boat, which was much  easer  than  I  thought  it  would  be. We cruised back and forth across the  lake watching the others  in the  seemingly easy to manoeuvre boats. Jane (T) sped around in one of the three speed boats that were keeping an eye on us and took innumerable pictures of our antics. It was getting close to dinner time, when we then transferred into a  speed  boat  to  go  and  look  at  the  tower  on  the  other  side  of  the  lake.  It was  then  that  the  fun started,  with  a  race  back  to  the  shore.  Our  boat  took  the  lead  (HOORAY).  BUT,  we  got  a  bit complacent and the others overtook and our vessel came in last (Boo Hoo). In the afternoon I went on one of the fun boats, and found that they were aptly named.   Gliding round the water, sometimes  in control  and  sometimes  not,  but  the  speed  boats  were  on  hand  to  give  advice.  It  was  a  perfect afternoon for sailing - a gentle breeze and sunshine. Drifting along I felt part of the group, but at the same time on my own, does that sound odd? A great day was had by all and, thanks to Paul from all who participated.   

An Evening with Raptors and Others – Article by Richard Amos

hawk flyingNot knowing quite what to expect we arrived at the not so easy to find rendezvous, the bird-master was waiting with a Land Rover full of cages. We were given a short but informative talk on birds of prey and their habits and myths together with the do’s and don’ts of being in close company of them.
First to be flown was Basil, a magnificent ‘tumbling’ Eagle, the name comes from the fact that their tails are short and when they are mating they lock talons and tumble through the air. He sat on the glove and looked around at the party then flew off in a wide circle and back to the glove for a snack! This was repeated several times whilst the handler described the habits of various birds of prey.
Next to be flown was a Grey Headed Vulture called Gollum, who thank goodness only feeds on carrion. Solitary in the wild they fly miles apart but on seeing a dead carcass fly down to feed, this is seen by others who also descend which is in turn seen by others until there are many feeding on the body, we were told that vultures prefer warm food this says something for their superb eyesight. Our example was a bit feisty maybe it was past his bedtime but he flew several times and landed amongst us. We had been warned that he was attracted to yellow and we all breathed a sigh of relief that we had none showing until Mick noticed his shoelaces! Paul was quick to avoid a sideways peck and Mick managed to preserve his footwear intact.
Next on perch (a technical falconry term!) was a Harris Hawk, the star of the show. We all donned gloves and he flew to each glove to feed. This bird was magnificent, he perched on the glove and did not miss any movement whatsoever. The question was asked why the bells on the legs? Being a hunter, if he had seen prey in the distance he would have gone for it. The bells tell the handler where it is if out of sight.
By now the dusk was setting in and it was time for the owls. First to be flown was an Eagle Owl, this had feathers that resembled ears. It flew to all the gloves and we were surprised on the weight or rather the lack of it for what seemed a large bird. The most intriguing aspect of the owl was his eyes. They were large, described as ‘teddy-bear’ eyes. I suppose they should be large considering their eyesight is ten times better than ours.
The Barn Owl is a favourite with most people, this one did not disappoint. It flew to the glove to order and generally performed as it was meant to. Then the party piece, we stood in pairs about a yard apart with Caroline kneeling at the end, the owl flew between us and over Caroline and into it’s cage, a taste of what it must be like to be a small mammal in the world of owls.
After we all thanked the bird-master for an entertaining and instructive evening we all retired to the local for a swift pint and to thank Paul for organising a very different event.

Firework display - Article by Anne Dodson

Way back in August, (I was going to say in the glorious hot summer and then I remembered I had to go back  to  the  car  to  fetch  a  blanket!)  23  of  the  50+  had  a  great  evening  out  at  Stanford  Hall, Leicestershire. After I had parked the car exactly as directed in the huge parking area, Carol, Janet and I consulted the compass and set off to find the 50+ gazebo!   It didn’t really take us very  long and soon we were seated waiting in anticipation for the display.  What a treat was in store for us. However, before things really got under way flying lanterns were lit and soon the sky was full of them. A sight to behold. At 9.00 a selection of effects were fired with a voice commentary explaining what we were seeing and how the effects worked.  Then  at 9.30  the magic began and  it was magical!   We were  treated  to  three  10 minute displays by professional  firework  companies  from  Warwickshire,  Lancashire  and  Surrey.  The  displays  were choreographed to music.  After they had finished we could text to vote for our favourites. It was won by Pyromania Displays Ltd, I think most of us voted for these although personally I think  it was very close between the three.   A closing display was given by MLE  Pyrotechnics  from Daventry  -  the organisers  - who had won  the competition  for  the  previous  three  years.    This  year  they  decided  not  to  compete.  They  were absolutely amazing.
However, not to be beaten, the 50+ club gave their own closing display of how to dismantle a gazebo in the dark! Or rather how not to!  Of course everyone was willing to help and there were muffled voices under canvas, canvas and poles falling on heads and lots of ‘you hold onto that pole’ , ‘who me’, who are you’ And  lots and  lots of  laughter!   Eventually we were all packed up and off we trundled with all the gear to try and find our cars…. And then to sit in a long queue to get out…. But that’s another story!

Survival Skills

    • The art of lighting a fire - Article by Hilary Connon

    fire lightingAfter a picnic lunch round the campfire we split into our two groups again and set off to look for food.  Pete took our group to the small fishing lake and we collected whippy sticks on the way to use as our fishing rods. After attaching line and hooks to our rods we used the remnants of our lunch for bait.  I used some soggy bread and soon had my  line  in the water.   Although I didn’t catch anything, I could see some tiny fish nibbling at my bread. This part of the day lasted for about 30 minutes and brought back happy memories of my childhood spent fishing in the lake at the bottom of my garden.  We then swapped  groups  and Hilary  took us back  into  the woods  to  sample  the  “fruits of  the  forest”.   Hips, haws  and  dewberries  were  on  offer  but  were  not  very  tasty.    Sloes  are  very  good  for  diarrhoea apparently, and after tasting one I can see why – my mouth felt as dry as chaff.   The best thing we tried was a Worcester Pearmain apple –  it was delicious.   Hilary showed us several other things that we could eat, although most of them required some soaking and cooking. It was 3 o’clock by now and we were  just  starting  to  get  a  bit  chilly,  so  we  headed  back  to  the  Centre  where  Pete  gave  us  all  a Survival Kit  list.   We thanked Pete and Hilary for a very  informative  (and fun) Day and then headed into the Café for a well-earned cup of coffee.

    • Building a shelter - Article by Carol Pullen

    survival skillsHaving  successfully  managed  to  light  a fire  the  next  task was  to build  a  shelter with whatever we  could  find  lying  around.  The  first  thing  was  to  find  out  the direction  of  the  prevailing  wind  so  that the opening was away from it.  Then in two teams  we had  to  select  a  tree/s  which would  act  as  the  anchor  for  the  whole thing  and  decide  what  the  ‘design’  would be.   My  team  decided  on  a  funnel  shape, long enough for me to lie down straight as I  was  the  tallest,  and  built  between  twotrees  close  together.   We  found  the  top long  pole,  fitted  it  into  a  Y  in  the  main tree  and  started  to  collect  branches, weaving them into each other to get rigidity.  After that it was just a matter of collecting grass etc to put on the sides, with more branches laid on top to stop this falling off.  I tried it out and it fitted my  length beautifully.   The other team built a round shape using a tree  in the centre and  it was very strong and sturdy and could have taken two smaller people lying down.  None of us realised that these would be judged but Pauline awarded first prize to Paul, Marilyn and I for the strongest and sturdiest shelter, but I think it would have been very draughty and I am glad I did not spend the night in it!!
    Many thanks to Pauline for organising such a fun day.
    • Foraging for food - Article by Pauline Ashby

    After a picnic lunch round the campfire we split into our two groups again and set off to look for food.  Pete took our group to the small fishing lake and we collected whippy sticks on the way to use as our fishing rods. After attaching line and hooks to our rods we used the remnants of our lunch for bait.  I used some soggy bread and soon had my  line  in the water.   Although I didn’t catch anything, I could see some tiny fish nibbling at my bread. This part of the day lasted for about 30 minutes and brought back happy memories of my childhood spent fishing in the lake at the bottom of my garden.  We then swapped  groups  and Hilary  took us back  into  the woods  to  sample  the  “fruits of  the  forest”.   Hips, haws  and  dewberries  were  on  offer  but  were  not  very  tasty.    Sloes  are  very  good  for  diarrhoea apparently, and after tasting one I can see why – my mouth felt as dry as chaff.   The best thing we tried was a Worcester Pearmain apple –  it was delicious.   Hilary showed us several other things that we could eat, although most of them required some soaking and cooking. It was 3 o’clock by now and we were  just  starting  to  get  a  bit  chilly,  so  we  headed  back  to  the  Centre  where  Pete  gave  us  all  a Survival Kit  list.   We thanked Pete and Hilary for a very  informative  (and fun) Day and then headed into the Café for a well-earned cup of coffee.

Autumn walk - Article by Maggie Marshall

autumn walk fineshade woods
We  keep  saying  it  was  lovely  walk  last week - and it was!
We  arrived  safely  at  Kingscliffe  after passing  the  challenge  of  navigating through  the  wilds  of  East  Northants (some never made  it!!) after we found the A43N was closed. We don't have Sat  nav just  me  in  the  passenger  seat  with  our well worn large scale road atlas. It  was  a  warm  sunny morning  and  we  set off a little late from Kingscliffe as others too had navigation difficulties.  We walked through  the  village  into  Westhay  Wood which was beautiful as the trees were just changing colour. We soon saw a group of deer crossing our path and then watched groups of red kites circling overhead. We are so lucky to have these magnificent birds in Northamptonshire. Next up were the buzzards and then more red kites – all 'good spots'.
Periodically Jane stopped to check the route and was soon surrounded by a group of  'advisers'. She stuck to her guns and we turned to walk alongside the old railway track then across the open fields, stopping for quick photo shoot, and then back  into Kingscliffe. We strolled past the traditional stone cottages arriving back at the Cross Keys early for our  lunch. Just time to  sit and enjoy the autumn sunshine with some liquid refreshment and it was time for a super Sunday lunch for most of us, Roast with Yorkshire  and lovely seasonal veg. Delicious puds to follow finished off a perfect Sunday outing.
Thanks to Jane for picking such a pretty walk.

Dancing - Article by Glenis Simpson

Sheena  Forster  exuded  energy  and  enthusiasm  and  appeared  quite  unphased  at  the  prospect  of  transforming  a bunch  of  old  clodhoppers  into  swingers. After  a brief  limber  up  to  get  our  creaking  joints moving, we were ready to disco. With a few steps this way, then that, a twirl and a kick,  in no time at all we were gyrating to the BeeGees’ “You should be dancing”. We won’t mention that some of  the men  in our midst did display the male trait of not being able to co-ordinate arms and  legs doing different things at the same time, at least not in the required manner!
A change of style and we were into Rock’n’Roll with Bill Haley and shimmying to “Sim Dim the Lights”. Sheena made  it  all  so  simple. Our  final  challenge  of  the  evening was  the  tap  dance. From  the most  basic step through to a kick ball change, we were soon tapping away like Mr Bowjangles (well, perhaps not  quite  as  good!). To  round  off  the  evening Sheena  performed  a  tap  dance  for  us,  displaying  her considerable talent and skills. It was raining outside as we  left but I didn’t notice any budding Gene Kellys . . .   Thanks to Mary for the organisation.

Ghost Walk at Lyveden New Bield - Article by Grace Galpin

ghost walkLyveden is an Elizabethan lodge and moated garden begun in 1595 by Sir Thomas Tresham to symbolise his Catholic faith.  One cold, dark night, a group of us foundered down a long, dark lane where some ghosts live – (don’t fall in the ditch!) - guided only by glowing pumpkins and the flash of torches, towards the incomplete silhouette of Lyveden, set against the starry night sky.
Our journey took us around the estate back in the time of Sir Thomas.  The ghost of the housekeeper lost in the moat, the young servant and the mysterious cellar, the fruit trees warding off evil and bringing good luck.  Ghostly shapes, haunting cries, a clawing arm!  Finally to the skeletal house itself, revived by hot soup, worms, witches fingers, bats a nd eyeballs to feast on – all things nice!
A fascinating evening – with hearty thanks to Pauline.

Ten Pin Bowling – Article by Sue Hern

ten pin bowling32 of us gathered in Wellingborough for the ten-pin bowling evening.  Spreading ourselves over several lanes, the sport began.  Obviously, there were some experienced practitioners and some novices, the former offering advice on choice of bowling ball and technique (line thumb up to middle lane and keep it straight).
Two games passed quickly, helped by liquid in-take, served speedily and efficiently by a cheerful, elderly 15 year-old employee (he told us that his birthday was 29 February) After the exercise, the food - not to everyone's taste - but I enjoyed it -deep-fried chicken, curly fries and onion rings.  I don’t have my cholesterol checked so that’s OK  The prize giving - top was Bob and, of course, in politically correct times we cannot call her the loser, Hilary was just the least successful.  Mind you, as I knew that there was no chance of me winning, if I had known there was a prize for last place, I could have managed to roll it down the gully every time!
It was my first event with the club, along with several others and we agreed it was a pleasant evening with a warm and friendly welcome from all the members. Thank you.

Bodyflight – Article by Diana Sharvill

bodyflying at bedfordOn the evening of Sunday 2nd November ten members made their way to the Bodyflight centre just outside Bedford. This is a vertical tower used to simulate skydiving. It has a diameter of 5m and is 8m tall in a converted former military science facility, with a huge wind machine to give enough updraft to keep you in the air. Imagine yourself in a huge tumble drier with someone holding you steady. When we arrived we had a chance to watch another group so we knew what we had let ourselves in for. It took a while to get kitted out with flight suits, ear plugs, goggles and helmets before our brief training session with our instructor, Carl. Carl explained the hand signals he would use to ensure we kept our backs arched, chins up and legs bent. He answered any questions and made sure that Christopher, who has limited vision, knew enough to be safe. 
Jenny was our first flier and she made it look easy; perfect body position and flying gracefully. Not all of us made it look so effortless but even on our first go most people “flew” with Carl – we have the DVD to prove it! Each flight was only about a minute and a half so we were soon ready for our second attempts.  We then had to get out of our flying suits, massage our faces back to normal (look at the photos to see how much the wind pressure had distorted our smiles into grimaces) and watch the replay to check we had really done it.

Archery at Grafham Water  - Article by Nancy Bronson

archery at grafham water sports centreThis was my first activity as a recently-enrolled member of 50+ and although I was looking forward to it I was a little anxious as to how I would fit in as a new member. I had booked for just the afternoon archery session and travelled to the venue with Geoff, an “established” member. He filled me in on some of the activities he’d taken part in and generally kept me entertained for the duration of the journey.
We arrived and joined the group who had been climbing in the morning, most of whom were staying for the archery too. A few of us were absolute novices, but the instructor led us all through the routines and soon we were performing like seasoned archers – well maybe not all of us. I for one struggled with my “technique” despite the best efforts of the instructor. In teams we battled it out to “Make a Cake” and something else I can’t remember, before ending up with “The Dating Game”.
Throughout the session we laughed and cheered and amazed ourselves and others with our prowess (ha!) and generally had a good time. For myself I can say I enjoyed the activity and the company of the group immensely.

Climbing Wall – Article by Judith Sampson

Climbing wall at Grafham Water A small, but select group gathered at the rock wall at Grafham Water on a crisp morning in November. Inside, the wall towered 50 feet above us - well that's what it looked like to me - the instructors said it was much less, but I think that was just a trick to give us confidence.
Some basic lessons in safety and rope holding (very important), a quick practice trip along the wall at ground level, and we were off. Some people amazed us with their agility as they shinned up the mountain face in seconds, some impressed us with their dogged determination, refusing to give in until they had reached the top, and some (me) cautiously crept foothold by foothold until they got irrevocably stuck and had to place all their reliance on the harness.
Whichever category we were in, it was all such fun, and such a challenge! This was my first event with the club and everyone I met was so friendly and encouraging. Thank you. I can’t wait for the next death-defying activity!

Scalextric Evening – Article by Jean Prior

scalextric eveningAbout 15 to 20 of us assembled at an old factory in Wellingborough, where the Scalextric club have two race tracks set up on the top floor.  One track is like a model, with model buildings and people set up.  The bigger one is for sheer speed and we were told the record for that track is about 4 seconds!! We voted to use the larger track for our races of the evening.
The racing was organised into various 10 lap heats, where everyone got the chance to race around each of the six ‘slots’ in the track. Many thrills and spills later, we raced about 6 semi-final heats to determine the six finalists.
The final was raced around 25 laps and was contested between 4 men and two women. The men prevailed and Richard Owen took first place, followed closely by David Turner, and Mick Cook took third place. It was also Richards’s birthday which we marked in the traditional way by singing and eating cake!

It was a very good evening, something a little different, and everyone enjoyed it.

Indoor Bowls - Article by Judith Ellingham

Indoor bowling at DesboroughOn  Sunday 30  November, 39 members of the club assembled at Desborough Indoor Bowls Club to have a go at this leisurely and enjoyable sport. Abilities were varied but each rink accommodated 8 players who split into 2 teams to compete against each other. There was some fine play with the odd errant bowl straying into the next rink to cause some entertainment. I have to say my own success was down to beginners luck rather than being a natural as some kind members suggested!

Our bowling was followed by a superb Sunday lunch at the club and then back to Dennis and Jane’s home for some much appreciated mulled wine and mince pies – perhaps our bowling would have been even better if we’d had these first !!

This was my first outing with the Club and it was very enjoyable and an activity I may well pursue in the future.

Laser Maze – Article by Lin Lonergan

Tuesday evening was the scheduled time to fight for the Universe and on time as always, the 50+ universal soldiers duly arrived at the Laser Maze and were sorted into 3 teams, each team hoping the foce would be with them.  Game 1 proved to be a settling in period for those who hadn’t played before, which they did exceedingly well and I hate to say it beat me (which wouldn’t be hard as I couldn’t hit the side of a barn door).  Games 2 and 3 were played more tactically with each team trying to destroy the opponents’ bases and eliminate the enemy by any means, fair or foul.  We may not have saved the universe from being overrun but at least we didn’t destroy it either.  A great time was had by one and all and much discussion took place at the end and, who knows, perhaps even I will improve next time.

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