In the September Edition of the Newsletter:
Our next Regional Wayzgoose will be on Saturday 27th October in Middlesbrough. The venue is Teesside University Students' Union. Access by car to the Students' Union car park is via Borough Road, Woodlands Road and Victoria Road.
We shall start at 10:30 am and there will be the usual free lunch if you book with Chenda Appleyard by 21st October.
There will be planned activities during the morning and optional informal explorations of the area in the afternoon. Please see this list of possible activities some of which need booking in advance.
When people go camping they sometimes come back with backache or pneumonia or foot rot. I came back with kittens.
As you may remember, the last of my cats died in January, so when I went to visit my friends to arrange the Camping Week at their farm, I asked them if they had any spare kittens. Not yet, they told me. It's too early for kittens. (This was April). But we will have in May or June. Sure enough, in the middle of May, they found kittens in the hay barn. Approximate calculations meant they would be ready to leave their mother in mid-July, which just happened to coincide with the Camping Week.
I've been organising the Camping Week for several decades now. We all pitch our tents in the same field in the same week, plus a gazebo for socialising. We light the barbecue most evenings and cook our own meals, and we all chip in with communal aperitifs, nibbles, salads and puds. And Bert. Bert is most people's favourite starter. A whole camem(bert), wrapped in foil and heated on the barbecue till its insides melt. Then we sit it back in its little wooden box and dip posh crisps, toast soldiers, bread sticks, carrot sticks or whatever in the melted cheese. We have learned, over the years, by messy experience, that the variety of Camembert that comes in a wooden box works best, but don't try melting it in the wooden box. The wax paper melts and the wood burns.
Somebody sent one of our campers a picture of Camping Playmobil, (plastic kids toys). It looks quite authentic, really. The Playmobil people are sitting round a campfire, not a barbecue, to cook their sausages, and one of them is playing a guitar. (I'm quite surprised the Health and Safety police allow children to play with campfires, even if they are plastic imitation ones). And none of us played a guitar, but the Astronomer Royal played his tenor horn. (We christened him the Astronomer Royal a few years ago, when he showed us various planets in the night sky). This year he has been asked to play in an orchestral concert, so he had to practise his horn. He'd got quite good by the end of the week; we could recognise some of the pieces he was playing.
We also had an artist in residence this year. Lindsay Topping from London joined us and spent some of her time doing lovely colourwash sketches of the surrounding scenes.
Our other slightly unusual occupation was kitten taming. Farm cats are not very tame, so some of us spent much of the week amongst the hay, trying to persuade my new kittens to like us. They liked us enough to play with us by the end of the week, chasing feathers and bits of hay, but they don't much like being touched. When I got them home they regressed a bit. They spent the first day hiding behind the stove, but we're back to chasing feathers again, now.
And we had to think of names for my new kittens. My previous cats all had names that could be prefixed with Polly, (Ester, Morph and Tical), because their mum was called Polly. I've decided to continue the Polly theme and have been offered various lists of suggestions. (My Mum suggested Cystic ovary syndrome. I decided to ignore that). We finally whittled it down to three (because I'm having three kittens), Pocket, Tesse and Wally Doodle.
Look forward to seeing you.
I'm Chenda Appleyard
IMAG in Athlone
This year's Irish Mensa Annual Gathering was in Athlone, in the centre of Ireland. As I'd never been to Galway in the west of Ireland before, I flew over a couple of days earlier to explore that part of the country before I got to Athlone. I took the late evening flight from Leeds to Dublin, which after a delay of almost an hour meant it was straight to the hotel and bed after I'd landed.
The next morning, I took the Luas (tram) to Broombridge on the outskirts of Dublin to see the plaque commemorating William Rowan Hamilton's discovery of quaternions, which I'd read about last year and decided I wanted to see the next time I was in Dublin.
Then it was back into Dublin to get the train to Galway where I spent the afternoon and evening looking around the nice city. The late sunset times that far west allowed for a walk down to the river and bay to look out over the Atlantic before it got too dark. I even found a bar which I decided was named after me, the Roisin Dubh - the Guinness there was excellent.
The next day I took a coach trip to the Cliffs of Moher but it was so foggy I couldn't see a thing - I decided the leprechauns must have taken the cliffs away! But as we made our way back to Galway the fog soon lifted and we had lovely views of the coast, so it was still a nice day out.
I arrived in Athlone late on Thursday evening after my coach trip, and spent Friday visiting the town where my dad and his family are from, as it was only an hour away from Athlone and I don't get the chance to go back very often.
So I just had time to catch the end of the icebreaker and meet up with some fellow Mensans when I returned.
After all my adventuring so far, IMAG started for me on Saturday morning with a visit to the Escape Rooms. We walked there from the hotel, and there were a large number of us, enough to take on two of the rooms that the venue provided.
They were described to us when we arrived, so we could each choose which room we wanted to attempt to escape from. One of the rooms was described as less scary with fewer things jumping out at us, so half of us took that option, and left the braver members of the group to take on the scary room.
I'd been to an Escape Room at BMAG in Ipswich last year, but this one was very different with lots of red herrings. In the Ipswich room we found we'd used most of the objects in the room at some point or another, even if we didn't know for a good while what they were to be used for. This wasn't the case here, and once we'd found a box full of keys and used the colour chart to unlock the many locks on the door, we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves out of the room with a lot of time to spare. (At this point in the Ipswich room we thought we were about to escape only to find ourselves in another room with more clues to solve.) We made our way back downstairs to the reception area to find we'd beaten the team in the scary room, who arrived shortly afterwards having also escaped with time to spare.
In the afternoon I took part in the treasure hunt. I'd never been on a treasure hunt at an AG before but thought it would be a good chance to look round the town as I'd not been around to join in with the walking tour the day before. I didn't know beforehand who else was taking part, so didn't belong to a team, but as we were gathering in the hotel foyer four of us teamed up together and received our clues.
The first few clues were nice and straightforward as they were easy to spot, and we were given clear directions from the hotel. But as we progressed the clues became more cryptic and we had to look high and low to try and solve them. It got us looking at things we would otherwise have just walked past, including crossing the roads into the middle of a mini roundabout!
We'd been told the clues were provided in order of their solutions, so on a couple of occasions we had to backtrack as we solved a later clue. At one point we passed another team heading back looking for clues we'd already found. For the trickier clues, we tried not to loiter too long, as we didn't want to draw attention to where they were! As we went on we realised we could no longer see the other teams behind us.
Before we knew it, we'd reached the end, which was conveniently at Sean's Bar, the oldest pub in Ireland. There were a couple of clues past the pub, but we could just about manage to see them, and one of our team kindly volunteered to go and check them out while the rest of us got drinks. We sat outside in the glorious sunshine chatting to a group of Mensans while we waited for the other teams. The pub crawlers also arrived while we were there. We found out after the Gala Dinner that we'd won the treasure hunt and received prizes! (It was determined by which team solved the most clues rather than who finished first.)
On Sunday there were two coach trips to choose from, I chose the trip to the Kilbeggan, home of the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in Ireland, established in 1757. We had a very interesting guided tour of the distillery including an explanation of the importance of a nearby water source for mixing, cooling and originally providing power - although the water wheel had been turned off when we were there as the water wasn't at the correct level. Luckily modern power sources allow production of whiskey without having to rely on the water level! The tour finished with the expected tasting session, and we were each allowed to keep one of our tasting glasses as a souvenir.
The coach then went on to Belvedere House and Gardens, where lunch was waiting for us before another guided tour, this time of the stately home.
We then had some free time to explore some of the gardens and lake - some of us made the most of the nice weather by going for a paddle! It was a nice relaxing afternoon.
On Sunday evening there was a last night quiz - however, by this point many Guinness's had been consumed and my brain wasn't quite up to the task! We again formed teams as we entered the quiz room, and between us attempted to convince our brains to come up with some sensible answers. The questions were crossword style with the number of letters in each word of the answer provided, which allowed us to make some educated guesses, and with the help of my team we managed to score some points. It was a late finish by the time the final scores had been confirmed.
The late finish was followed by an early start on Monday morning for a cruise down the River Shannon to Clonmacnoise monastery, which was founded in the 6th century. It was a gentle cruise of over an hour, with nice views of the riverbanks and wildlife. The buildings of the monastery are now ruins but there is a modern shelter constructed for Pope John Paul II's visit in 1979, which provided a nice place to sit and view the surroundings.
The leisurely cruise back was followed by a rush from the quay to the hotel to collect luggage, but those of us travelling home made it to the bus station in time for our coach to the airport, and before we knew it we were awaiting our flights home, with memories of a great weekend and anticipation of where next year's IMAG will be to do it all again.