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2009 newsletter heading

Annual Dinner/Party – Sue Hearn

xmas party- the carriage house higham ferrers
2009 fifty plus party
Cheers everyone! A selection of Tramps!

The annual dinner on 10 January was a merry affair, particularly for me, as I didn’t have to drive home. The usual venue, the Carriage House, provided excellent food and service, in a party atmosphere, all seated at one long table. After dinner I managed to beat Cecil at arm-wrestling [at 77 I should hope so - him not me] before we embarked on the quiz. A fair selection of questions to get our brains working - won by Les and Carol. We then moved to tables nearer the dance floor, where the people who had made the effort to dress as tramps awaited the judging. There were some excellent costumes, and if times get harder, I’m sure they could survive on the streets - the winner being Linda Vickerman.   Not everyone joined in the dancing but those who did thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope Cecil did not find too many bThe annual dinner on 10 January was a merry affair, particularly for me, as I didn’t have to drive home. The usual venue, the Carriage House, provided excellent food and service, in a party atmosphere, all seated at one long table. After dinner I managed to beat Cecil at arm-wrestling [at 77 I should hope so - him not me] before we embarked on the quiz. A fair selection of questions to get our brains working - won by Les and Carol. We then moved to tables nearer the dance floor, where the people who had made the effort to dress as tramps awaited the judging. There were some excellent costumes, and if times get harder, I’m sure they could survive on the streets - the winner being Linda Vickerman.   Not everyone joined in the dancing but those who did thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope Cecil did not find too many bruises next morning.  A very enjoyable way to start 2009 for the club.

Go Karting - Michael Markham and Julie Trevor

Go Karting at NorthamptonIt was 1.15 pm on the afternoon of Saturday 24 January 2009, when the would-be girl and boy racers met at GP Karting in Northampton.  The mission, to go faster than any man had before.
We assembled in the reception area where new members where introduced and everyone had a chance to size up the opposition.  We were then given our overalls, apart from Nigel who chose to wear his own, a bright red suit, but no horns, which, as Nigel explained, tended to make him a target.  I’m not sure Nigel got that the right way round but more of that later.

We then went through to the racing circuit where the rules were explained comprehensively by the staff although I’m not quite sure if everyone listened to all of them.  We were then put into teams of male and female where, in team 4‘Williams Team’ Les had to assume the identity of Liz to make that work.  It has to be said that it might have worked on paper but in reality, there was no mistaking Les for Liz.

Teams set, rules explained, the first drivers of each team crossed the bridge, which for some, seemed like the point of no return, donned helmets and gloves except, of course, for that red devil Nigel, who also had his own helmet. The first drivers got into the karts for some warm up laps and to set a lap time, which would establish their grid position.  Off they went and Michael spun at the very first corner.  Steve then had to be rescued by the marshals and team ‘Toro Rosso’.  Marylyn and Cecil were being very polite and letting everyone pass them.
Team 4 ‘Williams’ - Les and Keith - were told off for using both pedals at once, that was just before they got a ‘take care’ board for hitting the barrier with the back end as Les took the bend too quickly.
Team 3 ‘Renault’ Tina and Tony.  Tina actually got stuck on her way out of the pits for the warm up laps having not noticed the back of the kart was slightly wider than the front.
Tina from team 3 ‘Renault’ and Deborah from team 6 ‘Toyota’ were timed as having the equal slowest lap speed of 50 seconds; we were however assured that the karts did not have reverse gear.
Team 7 ‘Torro Rosso’ Marylyn and Nigel got it all wrong right from the beginning and first one out took up all the time for both of the drivers to have their practice.
After a short break to allow the marshals to assess the times, the cars and their drivers assembled on the grid in the appropriate place for the one-hour team endurance race.  Rules being quite simply to go as fast as you can without being dangerous and each team to have at least 3 changes of driver during the hour.
Almost immediately Les from Team 4 ‘Williams’ got a board telling him to slow down and take care after hitting the barrier on his first lap, having also spun it on another bend.  Team 5 ‘Red Bull Racing’ Pauline was greatly improved using the accelerator pedal as well as the brake pedal.  Cecil and Marylyn then put in their fastest laps and Les from Team 4 spun out again after hitting Pauline.   Michael then spun out on bend 1 again. 
Nigel, that red devil in his own suit and helmet, was constantly boarded for misdemeanours on the track, mainly ramming people. He also consistently missed the pit board from his teammate.  Tina needed rescuing and, just after being rescued, Tina then spun out again.  Cecil stopped on the fast straight to talk to the spectators.  Shortly afterwards Keith spun out and just after heading back on course was rammed by Nigel.
Of course, it wasn’t competitive at all. We all had a great afternoon and are looking forward to the next time.
At the end of one hour, there was very little to choose between the teams but Team 4 ‘Williams’ Les and Keith just managed to steal first place from Team 1 ‘Ferrari’ Michael and Julie who eased Team 6 ‘Toyota’ Deborah and Steve into third place.  Other prizes awarded, the fastest lap time of the afternoon went to Michael with a time of 29.7 seconds.
Other awards were;
Sin Bin Certificate Awarded to Nigel
Gentleman driver Awarded to Cecil
And others I can’t remember! My apologies to those that were awarded them.
Our thanks go to Richard Stanley for organising the event

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Lazer Maze - Stella Antonis

Wellingborough LazermazeOn my journey to the Laser Maze with Pauline, who kindly offered to give me a lift, to my horror she asked me to do a write-up on this event and my impressions of it.
On arriving at the venue and meeting several of the members, my first impression was how friendly and welcoming they all are.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Laser Maze, it was great fun and I would recommend it to anyone (even though I scored the least points).  My gun must have been a dodgy one !!!!

I find myself looking forward to meeting the members again and would certainly visit the Laser Maze again sometime in the future.

Ten Pin Bowling – Jane and Dave Fisher      

AMF Wellingborough rolled (or should that be bowled?) out the multi-coloured carpet for 35 of our members on February 24th  and 4 others had just as much fun watching.
As we arranged ourselves into teams of 7 or 8 someone asked us ‘Is the person here who wants his bowls re-drilled?’
Soon the alleys rang with whoops, groans and cheers as the first game got underway. Our right hand gulley saw lots of action at first (no names mentioned), but we all improved during the second game, apart from Geoff Crowther, who was consistently good from the start, strike for strike!
But who wants his bowls re-drilled?
In between turns, us girls discussed whether we scored better with the lime or aubergine bowls whilst the boys ‘got real’ and preferred blue, green, or grey!(Or Should that be black and white?!)
 By 9.30pm we had all worked up a healthy appetite ready for our meal, scampi and chips proving to be the most popular. Sitting down together with red and green serviettes, several amongst us felt a sense of déjà vu and looked for the party hats and poppers!
Congratulations to Geoff Crowther for totalling 335 to take home the chocs and wine, and to Peta  Jellis for scooping the booby prize. Perhaps next time we could all improve our performances by getting our bowls re-drilled like Doug!.
We were all looked after very well.
Thanks to Pauline for organising such an enjoyable evening for us all.

Murder Mystery - Christine Wakefield

murder mystery evening - Yeldon village hallWe arrived early for the evening to find Anne putting the finishing touches to the supper - what a superb spread - which was devoured half way through the night.

The room soon filled to the brim with fellow sleuths, the police were already checking their notes! Tables were filled with the CID staff from various local forces all there to solve the case of the murdered resident of the flat above the post office.

Suspects were dispatched to the tables to be questioned on their role in the discovery, motive and method of dispatch of the poor West Indian gentleman.

Evidence arrived in each interview ‘room’ at regular intervals which proved quite controversial at times on our table at least, with very little time for all to digest the contents. We were allowed to question each culprit [oops] interviewee twice and still our table could not agree who dun it or why. At the end we filled in the killer’s name but could not think of a good reason why they did it, so we crossed it out and wrote another name that we though had the most to gain.

The winning table - decided by the police officers - were very jubilant and enjoyed their “sweet surprise”

What a very enjoyable night we had.  Bob and I are founder members of the club but have not attended many events over the past 2 years; there are so many new faces that we have to put names to and look forward to getting to know you.

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Walking on Water - Hilary Connon

walking on waterIt was a bright, cold day outside, but the swimming pool was blood temperature. The anticipation was palpable as the first ‘victim’ stepped into a collapsed plastic bubble and we watched air being blown into it until it was a huge transparent sphere.

A makeshift launch bridge was created on the edge of the pool as she walked slowly to the rim.   Then a ‘run’ and CRASH, and SPLASH! and absolutely no chance of ever standing up in these contraptions.  As soon as you could semi-balance you tumbled again, scrabbling against the slippy interior like a demented muppet.
When my turn came I favoured my wrist which had so recently been sprained, so decided not to even attempt to stand up.   I maintained a very creditable crawl doing several circuits of the pool, and did some dizzying rolls and splashes on the water’s surface.    We were allowed 5 minutes per person, but I don’t think many actually could sustain that length of time.   It was unbelievably tiring but really novel and enjoyable too.
Many of our more ‘macho’ members still felt they could stand up by running in or trying different techniques – but their crashes were louder and more spectacular as a result.
The rest of us had a more leisurely time in the swimming pool doing lazy circuits and chatting against the floats while following the action.
A great experience and thank you to the organisers.

Spring Walk – Janice Munn & Annie Balding

spring walkSunday 5th April turned out to be a lovely, sunny morning for our first adventure with the club, meeting in the picturesque village of Yeldon.  We were rather apprehensive when we saw everyone sorting out their walking apparel which seemed to include an oxygen supply! (It was actually a tube connecting to a drink container)  We were given a meeting time of 9.45 am but set off at 10 am when the completed numbers of fellow walkers were gathered.
As our route led us through blossomed lanes, we were serenaded by robins and observed by brown-eyed horses, intrigued to see so many intrepid travellers hiking by.  We walked through fields of growing crops whilst larks carolled above us and, should the need arise, the comfort facilities were pointed out to us – a rather opportune overgrown bramble bush.
After meandering for an hour or so our circular route returned us to The Chequers pub where the tables were already set for our roast lunch.  This we thoroughly enjoyed among convivial chatter and a hearty cheer and thanks were given to the organiser for a most enjoyable outing.

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Multi-Activity Day -  Geoff and Barbara Crowther

Question: What’s one of only a few things that can bring women to their knees?
Answer:    Piloting a hovercraft!!
20 members descended upon Avalanche Adventure just outside Sibbertoft on Sunday 19 April in glorious sunshine to attempt quad biking,” blindfold” driving and piloting hovercraft. Also on offer at this site was 4x4 driving in what resembled a quarry and clay pigeon shooting. The group was necessarily split into several groups with some members only attempting one activity and some more intrepid ones two.
quad biking at SibbertoftHover crafting was probably the most unusual of the activities. The pilots had to kneel inside the hovercraft, lift their skirts (with the cushion of air I mean!) and then transfer their body weight around to shift the hovercraft round the site.  A lot of people had plenty of bovver with the hover on the first slalom run, but quickly and impressively gained confidence on the next two runs which included going over water and a speed trial around the outside track.  Six members were in the first group – Linda, Janet, Roger, Selvy, Jenny and Janet - Janet triumphing in the overall competition.
 Quad Biking was a load of fun with a lengthy course involving parts of the glider airfield before descending into the Leicestershire countryside going through tight wooded sections, deeply rutted tracks and lots of mud and water.  In our group were Dennis, Jane, Roger and Lucy and we managed to miss the trees and not hit each other (just). The bikes had great grip and an easy electronic gear shift, but needed every ounce of concentration for beginners like us.
The event was brilliantly organised by Janette, who contented herself by watching amusedly from the sidelines. Wise woman - bodies were quite definitely creaking the next day!

Blindfold Driving  - Lucy Oliver-Carton

For Cecil, Tony and me this was to be a real 'eye opener'.
After receiving instructions about negotiating around an undulating track we had to don an ominous looking black helmet that completely enveloped our head and face. It was sobering to rely on instructions from our friends.  Cecil gave me some very wild graphic hand signals and I could hear Tony and our instructor busting themselves with mirth.
When it came to Cecil’s turn we all collapsed in laughter when the helmet wouldn't go over his ears.  (after a lot of wiggling he managed it).
We all completed two circuits effectively and even a time trial which Tony won.
We had a brilliant time and enjoyed the camaraderie immensely.

Hovercraft Experience - Ann Cook

hovercraft driving at SibbertoftAnother new challenge with the Club on a sunny Sunday afternoon.  Me and four fellas – what can I say☺
Janette did sell this event as a very different and unusual sensation.  All done on a cushion of air with a throttle and a rudder!
Seriously though, this was a challenge that needed co-ordination and a lot of forward thinking to tackle the course set out before us. After a short period of instruction, we all took our turn at the controls of the hovercraft trying to miss the posts to score points, easier said than done and a lot harder than crossing the water obstacle which we all managed successfully.
Thanks Janette for organising another enjoy Thanks Janette for organising another enjoyable event.

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Crime Scene Investigation -  Lynda & Jeff Bell

A first for the club and a first for us!
Having booked this as our first event we were a little unsure whether 'it was a good idea'! BUT we soon discovered that YES it was.
When we arrived at the Hall we were confronted with a dead body. Luckily someone had got there before us and cordoned off the crime scene so that all the vital clues were not disturbed.
The 15 'investigators' then split into 3 teams -Tennyson, Frost and Taggart (corny but necessary!). Unfortunately it was then that we were given the bad news. We needed to don white protective suits, masks and gloves – very fetching and I hope that none of the photographs that were taken ever see the light of day.
Our task was to identify the killer of Lord Devonport and to discover a possible motive.
crime scene investigationTo do this we were taught the art of finger-printing and dental forensics (a bit messy at times but good fun) in order to examine the evidence – a pile of VERY valuable plates and a number of cups which had teeth marks on the rim.
During the more than welcome tea and cake break we had a quiz to complete and had to try and identify 10 objects which could be either used or found at a crime scene.
It was at this point that Ann sidled stealthily over and happened to drop into the conversation that “as the 'rookies' would we like to do the write up?”. With such a sinister look in her eye what choice did we have?
Our final task was to compile a photo fit of the suspect using software on the laptops – there were certainly some very dodgy characters in the frame. While we were busy Steve, our instructor and ex Scotland Yard Detective, gave us fascinating insight to some of the background and evidence available to a high-profile murder case of recent years.
All too soon the time had come to announce the winning team - ***TAGGART***.

Well done to them BUT as a member of the Tennyson team I must say “we was robbed!!!” and we want to know 'who did it' and 'why'?
A BIG thank you to Ann Cook for organising the event and to Steve and Sheila from 'Right Angle Events' for giving us a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.
If the event comes up again, consider signing up – just be wary of the white suits!

Pudding Evening -  Janet Carding

The very word made my mouth water.  We hadn't realised that such activities as tasting puddings would be included in the activities of an Adventure Club so of course we were keen to sign up.  At least we did a walk as our first activity so we didn't look too greedy!!  We duly assembled and were given six cold puddings to sample.  First off was banoffee pie which was very good.  This was followed by Key Lime Pie which was Deee-licious as my granddaughter would say.  Raspberry and Elderflower Terrine followed.  That was a subtle variation on old-fashioned jelly and fruit and I'm not sure I would spend £3.99 on it.  I felt the same with Scottish Raspberry and Amontillado Trifle.  The New York Cheesecake was good as was the Chocolate and vanilla cheesecake which was quite a favourite with many people including my husband but nothing came close to that Key Lime Pie for me although it was his least favourite. 
The evening was rounded off by a welcome cup of coffee.  A very enjoyable and social evening especially as it was purely tasting and no great lectures about each dish!  Thank you Mary for arranging it.

Orienteering -  Keith & Anne Drury

orienteering - irchester country parkThankfully it was a dry morning as everyone assembled in the car park at Irchester Country Park, all looking forward to a challenging day with our maps compasses etc. We were instructed to form ourselves into teams of four which we eventually managed to achieve. So armed with all the necessary guidance, rules and instructions we were ready for the off. For some of us this was the last time during the day that we were at all sure where we were.
For the next two hours or so teams could be seen rushing from one side of the park to the other, and then back again frantically searching out any sort of wooden post that might have anything useful written on it. Our team were doing really well until we read the instructions, having realised it was the letters on the posts we were actually looking for, we started again. It was around this time that we managed to loose a member of our team (sorry Marilyn) - instant disqualification was expected to be the penalty, fortunately we were re-united later.
As the day progressed the weather was very kind to us and we were able to get rid of jackets and cold weather gear which had clearly been impeding our progress. It was clear at this point that some teams were taking this seriously, fortunately we had Steve on our team and he really seemed to know what he was supposed to be doing, so we tagged along.
Everyone we met en route from the other teams was all more than happy to help with advice about the location of key pieces of information. We should have known better.. !
orienteering group irchester country parkFor those who managed to complete the ' course' there was the challenge of the quiz questions to be tackled, if only we'd had 'Google' on the mobile.  Or had a friend to phone!
Worthy winners on the day - The Compass Points - consisting of Lee Carter, Carol Pullen, Linda Vickerman and Bridget Paull.
Thanks to the organisers for a very enjoyable event and much needed refreshments at the end

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Bird Watching - Maggie Marshall

Stanwick Lakes ‘A breathe of fresh air‘, so goes their strap line.  Well on a fine breezy May evening it was certainly fresh!! A Group of 50 Plussers sheltered by the Visitor Centre out of the wind as we waited for the off. Our guided walk was led by Bob from the Mid Nene RSPB, which was actively involved with the design of the wild life habitats on the site.  The lakes and wetland areas have a mix of deep and shallow areas designed to attract a variety of birds. This site, along with others in the Nene valley, is visited by a wide range of seasonal migrant birds as well as the more common resident swans, mallards, coots and moorhens.
We set off  following Bob  to ‘Sand Martin Bridge‘, along the way we stopped to watch a Great Crested Grebe carrying its chicks on its back, those specialist telescopes certainly helped to see the tiny chicks.  At the bridge we were dive-bombed by swooping Sand Martins & a few Swallows, all recently arrived from Africa. We moved on to watch a solitary Heron and for the first time heard the Sedge Warblers hiding in the reeds, some lucky people actually saw the birds but I didn’t.
We retraced our steps back around the Visitor Centre and the play area (one or two left the group to try out the play equipment but no one got muddy or wet this time).  Our next ‘spots’ were nesting Swans, a family of Coots on the sand spit and we watched the Terns & Swifts swooping across the lakes.  Black headed Gulls occupied the sand islands and flew among the Terns but without their graceful flight.  Bob explained that the willow bushes spreading across the site were not ideal habitats for water birds who prefer the reed beds and grasses.  A few intrepid volunteers meet each Wednesday in winter to cut these back - more volunteers would be welcomed! 
bird watching - stanwick lakesWe walked round to the reed beds, dry at this time of the year; they are covered in several feet of water in winter.  We heard those Sedge Warblers again and too the Reed Warblers.  By this time all the birds were in full voice & it was a calming experience to be surrounded by birdsong.  We heard the Song Thrush repeating himself several times and in the distance saw a Cuckoo fly across the horizon (at least that’s what our expert said it was). As we walked back to our cars we all agreed it had been a good evening with lots of good ’spots’ - even for those of us who are not expert birders.
To finish the evening some of us retired to the Duke of Wellington at Stanwick for food or to watch the football or just to enjoy a quiet drink.
A most enjoyable evening - thanks to Ann for organising it.

Lowestoft Sailing Day -  Linda Toombs

excelsior - sailing trawlerIt was a beautiful sunny morning when we met on the quay at Lowestoft.  The Excelsior, a Lowestoft fishing smack with a gaff ketch rig, is 33 metres long (including spars) with a beam of 5.9 metres, was waiting for us to board. This lovely old boat was built in Lowestoft in 1921, and worked as a commercial fishing trawler until 1936.  Since 1989, Excelsior has operated as a sail training vessel providing off-shore voyages for young people – not as a luxury cruiser for oldies. 
Our first evidence of this was when we had to hitch our legs over the side to get on board.  Descent to the lower deck required some manoeuvring but the main problem was on the ascent when more than one of us hit our heads on the hatch – every time we came up!
 We were greeted warmly by the captain, Bill, and the crew, Lucy and Penny.  Our party consisted of Grace and Cecil, Jane, Dennis, Sally, Gordon, Pauline, Nigel, Lucy, Jeremy, Terry and Linda.
Before we set out we had a hot drink and a hot bacon and egg roll which was very welcome, even though some of us had had a full English breakfast at our B & Bs.
We motored out of the harbour and the first task, in which we were invited to take part, was to hoist the sails.  Once hoisted, we set a course South East down the North Sea passing a low and rather uninteresting coast line. 
There was very little wind so the going was very gentle.  At lunch time we descended into the galley for lunch which was hot soup followed by a great selection of salad, cheese and biscuits and fruit.  Our tummies full, we went back on deck to enjoy the sunshine.  It was a little chilly in the wind but we found ourselves cosy spots to relax in.
cecil helmingseveral people took a spell at the helm.  Here is cecil doing his bit.
Eventually, we had to turn round and make our way back.  The wind had picked up and we were heading right into it, tacking this way and that.  This required us to be a bit more active as the sails had to be re-set each time we turned.
Just before we reached Lowestoft, it was time to take the sails down.  Cecil was invited to help tie up the sails and readily agreed, although he was not sure what it entailed.  He soon found out when he was directed to climb onto the hatch cover, and then on to the boom of the main mast!  He edged his way along the pole until he reached the middle where he had to hang over it and tie ropes over the sail which the rest of us were folding and handing up to him. We motored back into port and, after a bit more excitement coming into dock, we arrived back safely. 

Jane gave the captain and crew a very hearty thank you on behalf of us all for giving us such a wonderful experience.

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Mystery Walk - Judith Sampson

chiltern walk-ivenhoe beaconWell, the weather was as much a mystery as the destination when we set off on Saturday morning. Hot? Cold? Rainy? Sunny? Windy? Yes to all of those, so suitably equipped for all eventualities, we watched the road from the comfort of our minibus seats and hazarded guesses as the signposts flashed by. 
We arrived at the Ashridge Estate just outside Dunstable in high spirits and, after the important business of refreshments, began our climb up through the trees and on to open grazing land. Wildlife
was in abundance: birds singing in the trees, deer leaping fences, insects buzzing around our ears. An English May morning in all its glory.
We continued on to scale the heights of Ivinghoe Beacon, where we took photos and ate our lunch in the shelter of the slope overlooking the view. Then along the Ridgeway track and down into the valley for a welcome afternoon drink at the pub in Aldbury. One final climb back up through the trees and we were back at our starting place – and the ice-cream van!
As a walk it couldn’t have been bettered and the company was great too. Many thanks to all those who worked hard to make it so enjoyable. And the tub of chocolates for the return journey was just the icing on the cake!

Street Rally- Marilyn Savory

In Higham Ferrers on Thursday 4 June, a dry but cool evening, 30 members split into 6 teams and set off at intervals, questionnaire in hand - examining buildings, fences, doors, churchyard, field and stumps to find the answers.  It is not long before we see members of other teams; have they found the answer, or are they trying to mislead us?  Oh quick!  Another team is catching us up, go down this alleyway before they see us!  Spending a great deal of time in the churchyard desperately looking to find who died on 16 October 1837, having the feeling of despair and about to give up, a team member spotted the small bright green stone, how could we have missed it for so long!
At 9 pm we were all back at the Coach House after all that brain taxing more than ready for a drink or two.  We also tucked into a basket meal of scampi and chips, sausage and chips or omelette.  Then it was time to check the questionnaires and the mystic animals, height of the steeple and what a stump was, all came to light.  All teams scored well with three teams tying with 22 points and it was only by the skin of their teeth that Three Plus Two took the prize.
Thank you to Ann and Mary for organising a most enjoyable night yet again.

Canal Boat Trip - Jenny Hopkins

canal tripSunday May 31st turned out to be 'jolly boating weather' for the 24 sailors.   We had two boats, which were equipped with a sink, a hob and the smallest toilet in the world which you had to reverse into and then pump like mad ( to flush it that is!!)
  After instructions on how to open the locks safely and not drown the people in the boats, we set off at a steady pace down the river Soar.  Despite the passengers getting a few whacks with some tree branches everyone who had a go at steering did a good job.
  A wrong turn (the chevrons weren't big enough were they Paul) meant we took a bit longer to get to our destination, where we moored up and enjoyed the feast provided by everyone (except me, I was a last minute replacement).  With our stomachs full we turned around and headed back to the boatyard and we all agreed it had been a lovely day.  Many thanks to Paul for organising it.

Caving In Derbyshire - Debs Moore

After a wonderful hearty breakfast in Hope we drove up to the The Devil’s Arse in Castleton.  Amongst many oohs and aahs and ‘God I’m shattered’ we finally managed to get all kitted up in our safety gear.  Adam (our guide) had been quite worried that we would all get lost in his kit as he thought he was taking out a bunch of midgets, he had never had such a small group, I was the tallest at 5’6”!  Girls at the ready with their red lipstick on and waterproof mascara applied to perfection we walked up to the cave entrance.  Adam was extremely impressive with his knowledge of caving and we all felt quite safe in his hands until he managed to trip over his own feet walking up the path (mmm, wonder if he is so good? went through my mind)
We were promised a mine of information about the geology of the area whilst caving, notes of which I was obviously taking, but unfortunately my shorthand pad got wet when we were in the water.
Les in the Devils Arse caveI don’t quite know what I was expecting from this adventure but it certainly got my adrenalin going and in parts my fear factor was being pushed slightly to the limits.  I think the best or possibly worst bit was when we had to get into water, up to our waists, and stoop under a gap just big enough to get your head through and then wade through a small cavern in which you could not stand up, but it was astounding geology and made funny by all the comments about how cold the water was and where it was getting to! 
Adam kept us well informed about how the caves had been explored over the years and added in a few horror stories about what had happened to some less fortunate cavers, just to make us feel safe!?  He also told us how to read the rock formation, which could tell you how fast and from what direction the water would come into the cave.
Once we reached the end of our cave a few of us were feeling slightly tired so we rested for a while whilst the more intrepid ones went elsewhere to practise walking like penguins apparently.  Heather managed to find her trousers (she had lost them inside her boiler suit somewhere) and we tried to play I Spy, but that didn’t last long, so we set off again, retracing our steps to the entrance and through that horribly cold water again, which we all decided had risen since the first time we went through.
Before we left the cave we had to wash down our suits, so that we didn’t get the tourists dirty as we left, and a very political debate followed, it wasn’t until Jane mentioned we were standing in the middle of a river, could we discuss this elsewhere that we thought what a good idea - funny that after being soaked caving groupto the skin for five hours you just don’t notice the water any more.
I don’t think I will ever forget the faces of some of the tourists as we emerged from the depths of the cave, it was like the parting of the waves as if we were an alien species, although with all our gear on we probably did look like that.
There was much frivolity in the car park as we battled again with our gear, this time to get it off, and I never knew just how much water you could collect inside a Wellington boot and still walk with it on your foot!
All in all, a cracking day and could I just say thank you to the other members, Lucy, Les, Heather, Jane, Mike, Trish and Pauline for making me feel so welcome on this my second outing with the group.
All I can say is that if this is what this club is about ‘then bring it on’ I will be there for every adventure possible!

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Bridgnorth Weekend - Canoeing -  David McNab

This was my first Adventure Club event so I was looking forward to meeting up with other members whom I found welcoming and helpful with advice and introductions.
 conoeing on the river severnAfter gathering at the riverside car park in Bridgnorth, our group of 28 members  proceeded riverside for the predictable health and safety procedures and canoeing coaching.
Our flotilla of 14 canoes (along with 18 other canoes) got away rather tentatively with varying degrees of abilities and skill. I was fortunate to have Carol as my shipmate who proved to be enthusiastic and good fun. The first six miles gave us beautiful views of the countryside and wildlife, the river changed from high cliff faces and quick running water to wide pastures and slow runner water. We stopped for lunch at Hampton Loade where we had a pleasant pub lunch.
On a personal note I managed to explore the waters of the Severn at first hand (well legs and bottom!) due to a navigational error, water clear and warm. However, we were quickly back in the canoe and on our way.
After lunch we canoed down about 5 miles to Arley where we left our canoe’s and travelled back to Bridgnorth via the Severn Valley Railway in a lovely restored 1937 steam engine and carriages. Imagine “The Railway Children” film, nostalgic and charming.
I had a most enjoyable week-end and had the opportunity to meet many members, I would like to thank Anne for organising the event.

Bridgnorth Weekend – Tandeming- Carol Pullen

tandem ride

Following the canoeing the previous day, eight of us were tandeming and we arrived at the very well run centre at Fusion in Jackfield.  After at least an hour of excellent instruction and practise we were given water bottles and maps and sent on our way using the cycle paths in and around the lovely countryside of Ironbridge.  We could stop whenever we wished and visit anywhere we wanted and the maps were very informative.  Being a solo cyclist I was not completely happy relinquishing the controls to my partner but he was very reassuring and helped to allay my fears and in the end I enjoyed myself – thanks Stuart.  Thank you also to Anne Dodson for organising an activity with an extremely professional organisation.

White Water Rafting - Margaret Sharman

rafting at nene whitewater centreWe all arrived at the Nene Whitewater centre at 10.00am ready for our adventure.  There were 11 of us taking part, some like me were complete novices and totally unaware of what they had let themselves in for and others had experienced this activity and were obviously prepared to take the risk again.
Before we could start we had to have the safety instructions talk, although necessary, did not do much to allay my fears; with talk of what to do when you fall in and not if you fall in!
It was then off to get kitted out in our body hugging wet suits and as the weather was so wonderful, we did not need our thermals or waterproof jackets.  When we were all in our life jackets and wearing our helmets we were at last taking our rafts (inflatable boats) to the water. 

I was in a boat with Janette, Richard, Geoff & Glenys with David the instructor to look after us; we were also accompanied by Lauren a trainee trainer.  The six in the other boat were Heather, Jane, Les, Debs, Peta & Marilyn.
The boats were launched with us all safely inside and we were told by David what responses richard going for a swimwere needed when he gave his commands.  We had not paddled far when we all had to get out the boat again and carry it up the hill to start the white water circuit.  In the boat again and off we went frantically paddling forwards, then backwards, then not at all as we were told and steered the boat through the narrow chicanes and down the rapids, trying desperately to stay in the boat which we all did but much to our surprise on one downhill chicane Lauren the trainee trainer fell out!
I don’t think our paddling skills impressed David much but we were the only boat not to get ‘pinned’ (stuck) in the chicanes.
The next exercise was to manoeuvre the boat as close as possible to a very fast flowing waterfall without capsizing or falling in, a lot of frantic paddling and leaning over; luckily the boat did not capsize but unfortunately Richard did fall in.

jumping inWe then left the boats for a few minutes and were given the ‘opportunity’ of jumping into the fast flowing waterfall and floating over the waterfall (without the boat) which a few of us did.  I had a go, thankfully the water was quite warm, I plunged into the white water and popped out like a cork on the other side, very exhilarating.
It was then off for our last trip through the white water, this time with Lauren in command and guess what she fell out again, luckily David was still in the boat or we would have been almost up the creek but with 5 paddles!

I believe everyone found it enjoyable and a brilliant way to spend a hot summer’s morning.

To see more white water rafting pictures click 
Here (opens in new window)

The Oundle Festival Firework Concert - Ann Cook

Being an adventure club you might ask what we were doing at this concert, well the fun began as soon as we arrived at 5 o’clock along with hundreds of others.
Our mission was to locate other members of the club gathering and find a space in the already crowded school sports field – no easy task as we weaved our way in and out of assorted tables and chairs and picnic baskets.  Luckily we were soon spotted by several members already set up in a prime location not far from the stage. Unfortunately as the 4098 other party goers gathered around us we were split into two main groups but this did not stop us having lots of fun as the music began.  The OG’s got us off to a good start followed buy The Manfreds then the Bootleg Beatles.  Everyone danced the night away even when the rain started half an hour from the end - quite a sight, people dancing in their wet weather gear with lots of large umbrellas bobbing up and down.  It was a great night and was finished off with a spectacular firework display. The adventure bit? – well you try finding your picnic gear amongst all those umbrellas, in the dark!

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Go-Ape - Hellen Dicks

My First Big Adventure
Les on zip wireAfter a leisurely drive to Cannock Chase hoping it wouldn't rain  (many thanks to Anne And Mick for the lift) we arrived in time to grab a quick cup of coffee.
We then split into two groups of 14.  Our group had the 11.30 slot. We were fitted very snugly into the safety harness and given a 20 minute safety talk and shown how to connect ourselves to the wires.
The course is split into 5 areas. After One practice session you are let lose on your own.  After climbing a 30ft rope ladder the fun began. The course was very challenging in parts with many heart thumping moments but at the end of each area, after plucking up enough courage to step of the platform, was a very thrilling zip ride as a reward. I always seemed to land in heaps of laughter on my bottom.
I found the 3rd part of the course very daunting and must admit had I walked the course first I would have missed this part out.  It was higher and quite scary in parts, thank goodness for long legs. My mantra when my legs turned to jelly was ' I can do it I will do it'.  Many thanks to Mick, Richard and Les for their encouragement and support.  Much to my amazement I completed the course.
At the picnic afterwards the general consensus was that everybody had jolly good fun thou most had experience at least one scary moment.
Many thanks to Richard and Janette for organising a wonderful awesome day. A true adventure

Punting in Cambridge - Martin Boulter

During a period of variable weather ranging from the truly summery to the almost wintry, we were fortunate that the sun chose to shine on us for the Sunday punt experience in Cambridge on August 9th.  We all gathered on the quayside waiting to board and watched the expert youngsters steer their passenger-laden craft with consummate ease.  It all seemed so effortless and relaxing. 
punting on the camA quick division of our assembled group into sixes and we were soon being herded onto the punts.  “Who wants to have a go?”  we were asked as we stepped gingerly aboard.  In our punt, Carol said she would.  I recklessly said, “I’ll give it a try, too.”  Jude took the front position with a paddle for extra steering; Carol took the helm (or rather the pole).  Mary, Hilary, Janice and I settled down in the centre seats ready for a relaxing drift along the river.
 The youngsters went by us in both directions, each standing on the back of their punt delivering a running commentary on the riverside sites.  The four 50+ punts drifted, lurched, hesitated, wavered from side to side and generally made slow progress up river.  There were gentle collisions and there was much laughter.  Carol and Jude negotiated us under bridges and over-hanging tree branches.   Then there was an anguished cry from the back.  “I’ve lost the pole!”   There it was, a few yards back, stuck in the river bed at an angle while we drifted away from it.  A passing punter picked it out and reunited it with Carol and we were able to carry on.
 We took time out to stop and have a better look at Kings College from a different viewpoint.   As we continued along there were other views of other landmark buildings. There was a quick burst of ‘Just one Cornetto’ as we approached one bridge; there were jokes about white water punting; some ducks looked at us with some amusement it seemed.  Carol was flagging with the effort of pushing us along and trying to maintain a straight course.  I took a quick look into the surrounding water.  Yes, we were going against the flow.  That meant I’d be going with the flow on the return journey! 
We finally reached the end of our journey – or at least the end of Carol’s energy reserves.  Carol and I exchanged places and I took the pole in hand with what I hoped looked like confidence.  I’d noticed that the expert punters stood right at the back behind the well that the non-experts occupied.  They had no need of someone to paddle and were able to punt centrally and on alternate sides.  I mentioned this and was told in no uncertain terms not to even think about it.  We’d brought a change of clothing ‘just in case’, but there was no way Janice was going to let me tempt fate by showing off.
  We wended our merry way back weaving between increasing numbers of people out in punts.  We were surrounded by young and old of many nationalities some dressed casually and some dressed as if they were on their way to church.  game of boulesWe hailed a passing punt full with Moslem women of various ages, some with the all-covering niqab and some with the hijab headscarf all giggling and obviously enjoying their river trip as much as we were.   Punting is a friendly affair and we greeted and were greeted by everyone we passed.  One surprise was the sudden appearance of Nigel coming alongside in a red canoe. 
We made a text book docking and disembarkment and then stood waiting for the other 50+ members to return cameras in hand just in case someone fell in.  Everyone landed safely and there more tales of punting experiences from the other crews along with outlandish claims such as “We went so fast we did some water skiing!”  We headed off to pick up our picnics from our cars and then settled down on Jesus Green.
After eating there was time for a quick quiz and our team (Carol, Heather, Janice and me) won.  No one was more surprised than us!  Then it was time for games with croquet, boules and quoits to choose from.   The sound of laughter echoed round the green as we played in the sun.   It was a great end to an enjoyable and sociable day.

To see more punting pictures click  Here (opens in new window)

Petanque Evening - Richard Stanley

petanque, who's nearest?36 of us (+ 1, Les arrived on the off chance and was accommodated) gathered at The Old White Hart in the village of Lyddington.  The weather was kind to us and Janette greeted everyone with ‘can you remember what you are eating?’ and ‘the bar’s through there’.
We moved to the Petanque course (the pistes) and our instructor, Sam, a sprightly and somewhat randy 76 year old, gave us the in depth rules of Petanque.  Totally baffled by these rules we split up into teams of six.
The game consists of having two steel balls each and throwing them towards the ‘cosh’ – a small red ball – and the team nearest this won the round.  There were lots of oohs and aahs from all sides throughout the night and it proved a good, fun game.  Our team decided it would be girls v boys, with the boys winning the first game easily.  After stern looks from the girls, we let them win the shorter second game!!!
We then all made our way to the restaurant where we had a great two course meal with wine.
Dennis welcomed the members for their first event – Peter and Lynne Toomey and Sheila Smith.
It was a great evening and thanks to Janette for all the work organising (that’s me off the hook).

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Activity Team Building (High ropes and problem solving) -  Grace Whittemore and Carole Houghton

high ropes courseOn Sunday 23rd August, we arrived at Grafham Water centre, late because Carole argued with the sat-nav, and joined 16 other adventurers ready for the day ahead.  This was only our second event in the 50+ adventure club, but we knew there would be fun and laughter and probably water involved.  We were told the challenges for the day, given the necessary instructions, very fashionable safety gear and then it was off to the tower.  We were split into three groups, and the fun started, first, the rope walk, Cecil lead the way, the rest of the team following, Carole and Richard were brave (or fool-hardy) and decided to go higher into the trees and tackled the high rope.   The other two teams were having as much fun as us, everyone shouting encouragement.  Our team then moved to the planks in the trees, Janette decided running was the best option, it worked and we all followed.  Again Richard and Carole were adventurous and went higher into the trees and walked the high rope, half way across Carole was heard to shout “I want my mom”.  Time took over and we walked away from the tower (some of us with very shaky legs) pleased with our achievements.  It was then off to the problem solving, we saved the world from Nuclear explosion (well nearly) and none of us was eaten by sharks.   We ended the morning as true adventurers sitting by the water having a well earned rest and picnic, looking forward to the afternoon.
We both enjoyed ourselves and achieved things we never thought we would ever do. Many thanks to all of you for making us feel so welcome, special thanks to our team “Knot A Chance”: Cecil, Richard, Janette and Marilyn for putting up with us.
On behalf of everyone thanks to Pauline for organising such a great day.

Activity team building (Raft building) - Peta Jellis

Raft building at Grafham waterNow how do you build a raft to hold 6 people?  I have done it before: sometimes it worked and didn’t sink, but sometimes (more often!) it didn’t and I got very wet.  Four barrels only (why were the other teams using 6 or more barrels?), 4 poles and lots of ropes – that should do it!  Gradually we built a very neat and compact raft: our knots were a delight to any seaman – maybe!  “Mick’s Harem” she was called in acknowledgement to Mick’s strenuous efforts in the morning with problem solving and planks of wood. 
The other 2 rafts were completely different: “Pauline’s Pirates” was twice the size of our compact job and “Knot a Hope” lived up to its name by turning turtle and throwing all its occupants into the water!  The knots came undone!  I thought Cecil was a seaman? 
The race was on with the two remaining rafts and a tie was declared as both rounded the buoy and brought its occupants safely to shore.  So our lovely YOUNG instructors from Grafham said we should build another raft to take all 19 of us.  That was easily accomplished – we just popped our compact raft under the large raft, did some more lashing and off we all went around the buoy a second time without mishap.  The only people who were disappointed were the men on the rescue boat as they didn’t have anyone to rescue!

Twinwoods Festival - Hilary Connan

13 adventurers set off for the Twinwood Festival at Clapham on Sunday.   The experience began as soon as we boarded an old military bus with suitable camouflage at the car park.   Delicious smells of fish and chips, roast pork, and coffee assailed our nostrils and tempted us away from our picnic lunches.  Everywhere you looked there were people dressed in 40’s clothes.   Dashing uniforms (more American than British) were everywhere.  Elegant ladies with seamed stockings and fox fur capes, stoles and tippets and little hats perched on the side of their heads.  There were also a few from the fifties, ladies with frothy net petticoats and a couple of sharp suited teddy boys.
There were two main stages and we were hard pressed to choose from the acts that were on, plus the chance of some taster dance sessions in Swing, Charleston and Collegiate Shag?    There were also some excellent museums and Living History exhibits, with volunteers to tell you all about the areas they worked in.  The Glenn Miller museum at the old Control Tower was particularly interesting, with the guy spinning a very good conspiracy theory about Glenn’s association with David Niven.  We laughed at the hand-knitted knickers in the women’s barracks, and the utility items that seemed so normal in our grandparents' homes, but were now antiques.
As for the bands – the Jive Aces had a fantastic keyboard player who jumped in the air and did all kinds of tricks that put Jerry Lee Lewis in the shade.  John Miller and his orchestra played some good old Glenn Miller arrangements.  Peter Donegan and the Lonnie Donegan Band had a packed audience swinging away to their skiffle on the second stage.  Stickey Wicket and his Swing Orchestra were fantastic and were still playing as we packed up to leave.
We got the chance to watch some excellent and very lively dance displays with aerial launches of the women.   One lady had frilly blue panties with a Union Jack (or is it Union Flag?) and was lifted up by her group to display them to the Dakota as it did several fly pasts.  We were also invited to join in the Big Apple – a Charleston/lindy hop type dance with a Hokey Cokey ending.
It was a brilliant day only marred by the cool wind and eventual drizzle towards the latter part of the evening.
Many thanks to Mary and Anne for organising everything.

Cycle Ride in Cambridge - Janet Carding

Thanks to the balloons we had no difficulty finding the rendezvous.  As we were there in good time we were able to watch the various vehicles arriving - some with bikes strapped on the back and some where bikes were produced from inside.  We did wonder when a mini arrived with more than one person in but they were to do with a hockey match that was being played nearby.
At the appointed hour Carol set off to meet the two people who were hiring bikes, leaving the remaining 12 of us in the capable hands of her son Matt. He was to lead us to the bike hire shop which he duly did - not on a bike but running ahead and even then he had to stop for us to catch up!
Once reunited and duly photographed outside King's we set off through the streets of Cambridge out to The Backs.  After a short stop to look at the back of King's we all managed to negotiate a Pelican crossing at the same time and headed off.
Cycling in CambridgeWe rode on a variety of cycle lanes on the road, cycle routes on the footpaths and some quiet lanes.  Thankfully most of it flat.  The steepest "hill" was onto the bridge over the motorway and as we all assembled on the bridge the Red Arrows flew over (as if to acknowledge that no-one had been reduced to walking!)
We continued over or beside fields - meeting very few people, and watched by some cows at one point.  After about two hours with various stops for crossing roads, catch up and a rogue chain we arrived at the Red Lion where our lunch was waiting along with some non-cyclists who had come to join us. Chaining up our bikes to posts took a while but then it was Lunch time and the meals were certainly worth waiting for. Everyone enjoyed theirs and thought other people's looked good too.  We confused the poor waitress with our coffee orders but she took it with a smile.
We then unchained our bikes, had a final photo and set off for our starting point with another flyover of the Red Arrows.  As we'd done about 9 miles before lunch the final stretch was a doddle.
Thank you Carol for an excellent day and to Matt for leading us to King's and then running to the Pub to order our lunches.
PS My grazes are healing nicely after an encounter with an uncontrolled dog (which had the cheek to lick me afterwards) caused me to lose control and fall off,  I'm sorry I didn't fall off again so that one of our party could have the laugh he wanted.

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Vineyard Visit - Jackie Ormandy

vineyard visitFor our last event in August a little “corker” was chosen!  We all took our seats at Welland Valley Vineyard to listen to its owner, David Bates, giving a highly interesting, and illuminating talk about wine production in the U.K.   After some agreeable imbibing of various wines produced at the vineyard, some of which were award winners, we trooped up to the neat rows of vines themselves to inspect their progress.   Finally we were rewarded with another tasting before decisions had to be made as to which wines to purchase!   We may have come away lighter in pocket but we certainly gained some insight into the fascinating art of viniculture.
Our next leg of the adventure was negotiating the Bank Holiday crowds at Foxton Locks as we made our way to The Old Boathouse for lunch.   Notwithstanding the long wait between courses, we made the most of our surroundings by “gongoozling” the colourful narrow boats on the canal junction and when the food did arrive it was excellent.
Replete after our lunch, those of us who could still rustle up some energy went on a peaceful canal side walk in the late afternoon sunshine, followed by a ramble and scramble over bridges and stiles on a circular route back to the locks.
 A very varied and satisfying day was had by all.


WHAT A WEEKEND!  Richard, THE CHIMP, going back to his roots. Paul and Marilyn showing us young ones there is life after the sell by date. Lucy THE FLOP, trying to fly but not succeeding. Richard (again) and Janette showing us how to conserve water.  Maggie, bug-eyed after her Ferrata experience. I’m sure there are others, but what the heck and the weather, fabulous. The centre, staff, accommodation, food, couldn’t be faulted and to have arranged for a singer from Durham to give us such an entertaining evening, well, I thought that couldn’t be topped, but top it you did - that fly past as we were leaving was total magic. Thanks to all concerned. MAGGIE and ART.

Gorge Scrambling – downstream – Bridget Paull

down hill gorge scramble

We set off in the bus for Stoneycroft Ghyll with Tom, our instructor, all attractively kitted out in padded bunny suits, enormous trousers, anoraks and helmets. Mick unfortunately wasn’t well and had to wait for us in the bus, but the rest of us climbed up to our starting point where we got down into the stream.  Tom went ahead and showed us how to take each drop, but I do admit to chickening out of the two ‘belly flops’ we were asked to do through what appeared to be very narrow channels, and slid down instead. As we progressed our legs and feet got heavier as they filled with water, (especially for Lucy who had been given wellies to wear), and we had to lift them over some of the rocks. However it was an exhilarating experience, and it was only when we were chest deep that we realised how cold the water actually was.  Arthur and Tony, by accident or design, were tail end Charlies, and were always ready to lend a hand on the more slippery rocks.  All in all great but wet fun.

Canoeing - Carol Pullen

Canoeing on Derwent WaterIt was one of those glorious mornings when Derwentwater had scarcely a ripple on it, the sun shone,  the fells were reflected in the water, and eight intrepid canoeists set off, with our very informative instructor John, to have some fun on the water.  With two to a canoe and the heavier person in the back to lift the bow slightly we set off to explore some of the inlets around the edge.
We beached our canoes and had a photo opportunity at ‘Entrust’, which commemorates the centenary of the first piece of land bought by the National Trust, which now owns the land on this side of the lake.
Then into the canoes to paddle very lazily back across Derwentwater to our starting point.  That was the theory, but there is always one wayward boat in 50+ who cannot quite control their canoe and spends most of the time running into others!!  For others it was a very peaceful and gentle start to the weekend.

Abseiling – a woman’s view!    Sheila Smith

After a hearty breakfast 12 of us were summoned to the Store Hut where we were issued with helmets, harnesses and ‘cattails’! - Were we Abseiling or taking part in some weird ritual!! 
Thankfully we arrived at the Bowder Stone National Trust car park where we walked to a magnificent cliff face.  We had already chosen a ‘spectacular’ abseil rather than just an ordinary abseil after Simon the instructor had quite rightly given us the choice.  There really was no choice for our group of adventurers as ordinary was just not good enough.  We had already carried enough rope to re-rig a Tall Ship although there were no  karabiners on a Tall Ship (were there Cecil?)  After a few basic instructions on how to use the karabiners and feed the rope though with our hands we were ready to fly – whoops sorry abseil!
Abseiling in the Lake DistrictShock horror – not only did we have to throw ourselves over the cliff edge we first of all had to climb up 120 feet to get there…2 hours later (ha ha)……. we had arrived at the cliff face and 4 minutes later the first victim had landed at the bottom unscathed thanks to Simon’s instructions. A few of the group conquered their fears of heights and lowered themselves gingerly to the bottom with a whoop of joy when back on solid ground again!
Who would have thought that after all this climbing and abseiling that there would be a ‘Flasher on the rock face opposite!’  The ladies could not believe their eyes when a ‘man’ (mentioning no names) started to perform a striptease – trouser bottoms off first and after a couple of wolf whistles and shouts of ‘get ‘em off’ Richard took off his shirt and lay prostrate on the Rock face to take in a few rays of sun or the watchful eyes of the ladies.  Simon wondered what sort of club it was!! This was fine until Simon shouted “Time for three more to have another go” I have never seen a man move so fast, dressed in a jiffy and up the cliff face like a mountain goat Richard abseiled down again.
All in all it was a brilliant morning; we all thoroughly enjoyed it and survived to tell the tale.  Having helped Simon pack up all the gear, we headed back to the minibus – but wait “Simon,  didn’t you have a dog with you” – “oh I forgot about Midge” who was asleep on top.  One loud whistle and Midge was back down herding us back to the minibus.  We arrived back at Glaramara for a welcome lunch and rest.

Viking Boating    Anne MacGovern

Viking boat on Derwent Water

Ten Vikings “set sail” in a beautiful 30’ Viking boat, but as there was no wind, we had to row!  Captain Ann (Cook) at the helm whipped the slaves into shape and we made it to the middle of Derwentwater, where we hauled on the sheets (and many other ropes, whose names I have long forgotten) and hoisted the sail.
John, our instructor, was full of fascinating information about our craft and Viking life.  As we sailed slowly down the lake, we imagined what it would be like sharing our space with animals, eating dried bread and drinking beer (now that didn’t sound too bad), having no shelter or “facilities”.  Rape and pillage – apparently the Vikings were no worse than anyone else and those cute helmets with the horns – a myth.
Thanks to John, our instructor, for a very entertaining trip and to Jane for making it all possible.

Uphill Gorge Scrambling   Annette Booz

My first adventure with 50+ was the Lake District Weekend.  I can’t swim and am not happy in deep water, so was rather anxious when I found that the rock climbing wasn’t going ahead and that I was with the uphill gorge scrambling group instead!  Before we could begin we were kitted out in blue ‘teddy bear’ outfits over which we wore waterproof trousers and cagoule.  A white helmet completed the ensemble. Feeling rather like ‘boil in the bag’ we walked up the road in the hot sun to where the fun was to begin.
It didn’t take long before the wellies filled with icy water, but I was soon scrambling up the stream and clambering over rocks with the others and thoroughly enjoying climbing waterfalls and splashing through pools. In my enthusiasm I soon slipped and found myself sitting in the water, but it was all part of the fun. We all helped each other up the tricky bits and our instructors, Simon and Tom, were there to help with the really awkward parts. Most of the group were happy to wade through really deep water and even swim in the pools, but as a non-swimmer there was always an easier route I could follow.
At the end, we all had to trudge back down the road to Glaramara in our soggy outfits and squelchy shoes. It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and it might even be my first choice of activity next time!

Via Ferrata - Richard Coles

There were 18 of us who piled out of the minibuses at Honister Pass.  We were told to put on harnesses, helmets and torches.  A simple task for 12 year olds but for adults stepping into a two legged harness was not so simple and a certain female member found out the hard way that two legs won’t go into a one legged hole!
Via Ferrata Honister slate minesHalf an hour later we had walked up the winding path to the Cliff entrance. Head torches alight we climbed up a dark tunnel through the mountainside and came out the other side to start our traverse.  Tom and Simon the instructors had already given us some basic safety instructions so we soon got into the routine of clipping on and off the support line. At one point Tom allowed us to have a well earned rest – admiring the view, the sound of silence was interrupted by a blood curdling scream – Tom jumped up thinking someone had fallen over the Cliff but no - Lucy had a worm crawl over her hand!  Amazing - 200ft up on the sheer mountainside no terror - but a worm – mayhem! 
We re-commenced our traverse – “hey this is easy clip, un-clip, clip un-clip” until Tom vanished round a left hand bend and said you are doing this next!  Peering round the bend I was shocked to see a vertical rock face of 40 metres with overhanging ladder, however, several club members including one of the girls,  overcame this scary obstacle and hauled themselves round and up whilst Tom the instructor was suspended by one karabiner.  One more horizontal ladder safely crossed we carried on up the mountain taking in the breathtaking views and reading about the slate mines.  At the top we were rewarded by fantastic views across the estuary and peaks all around.
There were no buses running today so Tom made us walk all the way down the mountain back to the minibuses to take us back to Glaramara.  We all had a fantastic time and a wonderful experience.

Sunday Morning Walk   Marilyn Savory

Group by Castle Crag

Sunday morning the sun was shining and nine of us set off for a five mile walk.  The start was quite a climb and after a short while we all made it to the top - our efforts rewarded by the beautiful views all around.  We continued to walk around the back of Castle Crag, crossing clear rippling streams and continuous beautiful views.  Then came Derwentwater, a group photo a must; we then continued the walk along a wooded area by DerwentRiver.  At one point arriving only a few yards from a waterhole, Scafell Hotel, a debate, do we stop or continue, needless to say the vote was unanimous and a welcome drink was consumed.  Up and away again, around a tricky rocky area and pleasant walk back to the centre.
Thank you Jane for arranging and guiding such a scenic and enjoyable walk.

The Monday Left-Overs

12 members were fortunate enough to be able to stay for an extra night at Glaramara (oh! the dinner that everyone else missed – lamb shank, strüdel ………).  It was eerily quiet after all the excitement of the previous two days so some Monday morning action was called for.  While Arthur took himself up to Honister to buy souvenir Via Ferrata T-shirts, the rest of us scaled the dizzy heights of Castle Crag and were rewarded with amazing views of Derwentwater and surrounding fells.  We celebrated our achievement with Kendal mint cake and then made our way back to Glaramara, our cars, the M6 and home.  Another Lake District weekend over but the good news is that we have booked again for 2010!

 To see more Lake District  pictures click Here (Opens in new window}

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SHOOTING DAY (or don’t mess with the 50+ gunmen/ladies!)   Jeremy Furnish

Rifle shooting groupTwelve of us gathered at Manor House Farm in Woodford (thanks for the good directions Paul), for a morning of air weapon shooting.  After coffee there was the obligatory safety briefing then we went to the range.
Six of us started with air pistols, and the others picked up rifles. For myself, I was amazed at the development of air weapons since I last fired one, about twenty years ago. The pistols were modelled on well-known firearms, including the big Ruger .44 Magnum and the .45 Colt 1911A1 beloved of American servicemen. There was a pistol modelled on the Glock 17, but it did not work very well, unlike the real one which is one of the best in the world.  The other two pistols were very accurate (for pistols) and had very light triggers, from which we had to keep away until ready to fire. My group had a go with each weapon. I hope all the others did too but by then I was at the rifle bench.The rifles were amazing. With superb telescopic sights (electronically controlled no less) a beautiful balance and a featherlike trigger they gave a feeling of confidence when first picked up, and performed with astonishing accuracy. I understand that they are the property of the instructors rather than club weapons, and so was grateful for the chance to fire them.
After we all had had a chance to get used to the weapons, there was a competition with rifles. After the first round (at paper targets at 25 yards), five of us had scored the maximum, so a shoot-off was needed (this time at small field targets again at 25 yards), and four of us top-scored.  With a glint in his eye, the Range Master had the field targets moved out to 45 yards, where they were quite difficult to see without the excellent scopes, but well visible with them. There was a narrow winner (who wrote this) but it was close.
For myself I thoroughly enjoyed the day and I think everyone else did too. Many thanks to Paul for his organisation. This was a good one for the club.

MEDIEVAL BANQUET   Grace Whittemore & Carole Houghton

Medieval banquet group pictureOn Saturday 10th October we gathered at Nassington; it was like a scene out of Camelot, or some might say Spamalot.   Ladies and Gentlemen in their finery, Cecil the jester with bells on his hat making music wherever he went and enough monks to start their own religious order. We were shown to our two tables and settled down to enjoy the evening. Brother David gave the blessing and the medieval feast began. After soup and the pig roast we retired to another room and were entertained. The court jester (without bells) proceeded with plate-spinning, juggling and other tricks. Paul (dressed in chainmail and head-gear) offered to be the jester’s assistant and was very good.  Due to health and safety regulations real swords could not be used, so we compromised - Paul chose a red balloon and the Jester a blue one .Needless to say, with Paul’s 50+ Adventure Club experience, he fought a good fight and rescued Lady Marilyn, his reward to be knighted “Arise Sir Paul”. The entertainment came to an end with Brother Geoff wrapped in a cloth on the floor while the jester walked over him swinging his clubs. We then had a chance to try a few tricks for ourselves, we all survived. It was then time to make our way back for our Just Desserts. After more laughter and drinks the evening came to an end. For some of us it was a longer night due to Carole forgetting to phone for our carriage home; at one point we considered hitch-hiking but who would pick up a monk (Brother David) and his two lady companions? Instead, we had another drink and waited for the transport. We eventually arrived home about 1.30 tired but happy. Thank you Anne, for arranging a most enjoyable evening.

AUTUMN WALK   Barry and Pat Fitzhugh

Autumn walk NassingtonAfter a head count by Ann, 26 of us set off on a cool, cloudy morning from the Black Horse at Nassington across the fields to the Nene where we encountered some lively young cattle that seemed intent on rounding us all up!  The walk continued along the Nene to Yarwell Mill and into Wansford where we re-grouped and had a group photo by the old stone bridge.  With the sun now shining, we walked through woodland and an old quarry where we spotted a red kite and a buzzard.  We had more animal encounters just before Nassington when two horses investigated the contents of some people’s bags!  To finish off the morning a good Sunday lunch was enjoyed at the pub.
Many thanks to Ann for organising a very pleasant and scenic walk.


Practicing circus skillsWhat a terrific way to start my initiation into the 50+ Adventure Club at the circus skills night.  Usually one to stand at the back of the queue, I felt comfortable and at ease and ready to join in.  What fun.  The instructor was brilliant.  He was funny, patient with those of us with no co-ordination skills, terrific to watch when he demonstrated to us and kept us thoroughly entertained.  There was a wide variety of things to try, I tried tightrope walking and surprised myself; juggling, which was certainly harder than it looks; tried plate spinning, at which I thought I was quite good and other things which I can’t remember the name of.  Oh yeah, "Diablo", couldn’t get the hang of that one.  Decided not to do the unicycle after watching Cecil and others hit the deck a few times.  There wasn’t enough time to do all the skills, so if ever there was another event I am definitely up for it.  Want to try the stilt walking next time!

HALLOWEEN  Maggie and Arthur Marshall

It was Halloween, it was a full moon and ghosts and ghouls were about -  or at least a group of 50+ ghost hunters were stalking the alleys and streets of old Stamford, led by a reincarnation of Betelgeuse (remember the film) and his ghostly assistant Caspar!
In dark corners and up on the roofs spooky apparitions leapt out to startle us with resulting  loud screams echoing around. Some of us were more favoured (Anne) by these apparitions than others  so the screams were even louder. We met the ghost of a star struck 'Stage Door Johnnie' behind the theatre, the ghost of a lovelorn suicide in dark alley, and other apparitions, who startled us by suddenly leaping out of dark corners.
Our walk finished as we walked warily into a black spooky cavern haunted by more spooks & lots of spiders, but this led to safe haven in the theatre bar where we fortified ourselves before the journey home.
'Twas a highly entertaining & spooky evening which we all enjoyed & anyway after a certain age it’s good to get the heart racing occasionally!!  Thanks to Paul for organising this one.

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10 PIN BOWLING   John Kemp

tenpinA very good turn out for this popular event.  We sorted ourselves out into teams on the six lanes booked.  Two enjoyable games later after the scores had been added up, Judith Ellingham won the lady’s prize and I had my Andy Warhol moment winning the men’s. 
We finished the evening with a meal and prize giving.
Thanks to Pauline for organising it and to AMF staff who looked after us very well.

SCUBA DIVING  (or Scooby Dooby)    Steve Pelling

On a murky Monday evening in November 12 clubbers got together to challenge the depths of Thrapston swimming pool.  As we each arrived and began to chat about the evening’s “Try Dive” we soon realised that we all had the same thought “will I be able to do this?”.  We needn’t have worried.
Scuba Diving at Thrapston swimming poolAfter a presentation by John, one of the Thrapston Sub Aqua Club instructors, about safety and how the equipment worked, we went through to the pool and got ready.  The girls had the first go and the instructors showed them how to put on the breathing apparatus and then submerge at the shallow end of the pool.  Within a few minutes they were swimming about on the floor of the pool and soon down to the deep end.  The instructors stayed alongside all the time to make sure they were OK
30 minutes later, it was our turn to go in.  All kitted up and mouthpiece in place, I stuck my head under the water and tried a first breath.  Amazing, I couldn’t believe how easy it was.  A bit nervous at first but after about a minute I began to relax and breath slowly.  We set off up and down the pool a couple of times with some more instructions on how to use the fins (not flippers!) and so on and then settled on the bottom where Peter, my instructor, showed me how to adjust my buoyancy so that we hovered in mid-water.  Another couple of lengths and then the half hour was up.  At this point we reluctantly got changed and retired to the Bridge Hotel bar where we joined the members of the Sub Aqua club to talk about the experience.  It was at this point that one of our lady members (you know who you are!) spent 10 minutes chatting to a group of men at the bar whom she assumed were Sub Aqua Club members when it transpired that they were just out for a quick pint!  She eventually returned, slightly confused, with at least one telephone number (allegedly!).
The overall opinion was that SCUBA diving is easier than we expected and a lot of fun.  Many thanks to Mary who organised it for us all and also to Thrapston SAC for a new experience.
Things we learned today: 
SCUBA – Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus
Thrapston Sub Aqua Club is part of the British SAC – the largest diving club in the world.
So now you know!

TOBOGGANING   Malcolm Hackney

My First 50+ Adventure
I was really looking forward to the tobogganing; I had not been on a sledge since the winter of 1963. Then it was a matter of what we could find - fertiliser bag, wood, tin trays iron corrugated sheets - no Health and Safety in those days!
On a wet and windy night 23 of us made our way to Tamworth. We found the rest of the group in the bar, where we collected our arm bands for 2 half hour sessions.
After a short safety talk on how to control the sledges and wrapped in warm clothing, we made a slow ascent  up the travelator to the top of the slope, where we all lined up ready for the off; the official gave permission and one by one we descended the slope.  The sledges zoomed down the slope; the levers enabled us to regulate the speed we travelled.  Most of us took a tumble at one point although nothing serious. I came off my sledge in the middle of the slope.  Most of us had about seven or eight runs it was a thrilling evening which I enjoyed very much. A wonderful way to relive stress - may we never grow old!
We then travelled to the Hinckley Knight for an enjoyable meal and conversation.
Many thanks to Jane for organising a wonderful adventure


Bowling at Desborough Indoor Bowling Centre Christmas dinner at Desborough
My first event with this club was the indoor bowls on 6th December.  This took place at Desborough Indoor Bowls Club, with 34 people taking part.  We were split into smaller groups of 7 or less and then given two hours of instruction by one of the Desborough club members.  The instructress on our lane was amazingly patient (considering) and spent the time trying to help us control the bias of the woods so that they finished up still in our lane.  Apparently, control of distance comes somewhat later after a lot more practice.  Some more flexibility in my knees would also have helped in avoiding the occasional 'Barnes Wallis Special'.  After the bowls, we had a Christmas lunch at the club and then went on to Dennis and Jane’s home for some very agreeable mulled wine and mince pies.
Many thanks to Dennis for organising this and for his and Jane’s hospitality, not to mention the mince pies (even if they are illegal!)

LASER MAZE  Paul Rogers

I've been in the club for 5 years and have not attended this event before. What a mistake! This is a good excuse to go back to your youth and play a modern version of  "cowboys and indians".
 We were divided into 3 teams, red, blue and yellow - each player having a name such as Spiderman, K9, Tardis etc. The aim of the game is to defend your base from the other teams, whilst attacking them and their bases and score points.   The yellow team came out with the highest score, but the overall winner out of the17 taking part was Superman [Richard Owen to us] with 56,000 points. According to the score sheets he had a dislike of Yoda and K9. Who were they I wonder? Well done Richard and thank you Pauline for organising the event it was great fun. I would recommend this to all who have not done it. Roll on February!

FENCING  Janet Kemp

Fencing at the Pemberton Centre Twenty-one people turned up for this opportunity to live out their childhood fantasy as one of the legendary musketeers.   However, we didn’t quite project that debonair, agile, nimble persona of those old-time heroes as several of us had first to battle with the ‘obviously undersized’ protective garments.   One or two (no names) not only needed the assistance of several helpers but also had to virtually dislocate their shoulders.  However, once we were all togged up we had the splendid appearance of a troupe of sword wielding, if slightly psychotic, escapees from the local lunatic asylum.
Eventually with the assistance of our patient teacher we all proceeded to jab here and there as required, with footwork which Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (before my time of course) would be proud of.
It did become apparent however, that future training on basic anatomy might be useful- if only to help Richard who was having trouble distinguishing his arm from his leg – a mistake anyone could make!
There was one moment of terror, when our teacher produced various swords to look at, and one of which – a devilish broad based object with NO TIP - was picked up by Cecil.  Lack of personal hygiene could not have cleared him a greater amount of space as we all backed away in unison*.  Safety reigned when a more sound member of the group pried it away from him – phew!!!
All in all it was an enjoyable mostly painless experience which I hope will be repeated again.  Many thanks to Carol for organising it. 
*(Ed’s note: Cecil will not take offence at this - he is Jan’s uncle!)


Belly dancingWe all arrived at the hall wondering what we had let ourselves in for.........our instructor looked very exotic, as was Pauline, the rest of us played safe with jeans and tops.   We all put on a belt with sparkles and bells on; the hall was as cold as the weather outside but we all soon warmed up!! Then we started our lesson, warm up exercises first and then into belly dancing moves................never ever stand next to Janette, what with the hip moves and the boob thrusting I couldn't concentrate for laughing.......she was called a drama queen and a diva later in the evening,......trying to get the hips, the arms and hand movements to look graceful without laughing was a feat in its self......and then came 'the John Wayne Walk' what can I say...............we walked, we moved those hips, the arms moved in the most exotic way we could all muster.
It was a great evening, it is extremely difficult and a very good workout, I would love to do it again. Tracy also gives lessons in Burlesque.....................................

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