December got off to a healthy start with 11 of us walking along the Thames from Richmond to Syon Park for lunch and retail therapy. This was followed by a fantastic Christmas party which of course included Secret Santa presents and crackers, enjoyed by all. There was another longer walk from Wargrave to Henley with some lovely views of the Thames and the deer park at Rememham. Café Club continues to be popular on Monday afternoons and tennis on Tuesday mornings. And finally there was a morale boosting walk around Gladstone Park on Christmas Eve, which set us up nicely for the rigours of Christmas Day!
The month started off well with a short walk from Greenford to Boston Manor with spectacular views from Horsenden Hill and then a very pleasant stroll through Harrow School’s playing fields. We had our Annual Meeting at the Mason’s Arms followed by a quiz as is traditional. We were all still very happy to be meeting in person. Later in the month we had a longer walk along the Chiltern Way, where we all enjoyed the last of the autumn colours on the trees. There was a good discussion at Book club about our book of the month, Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason. We all enjoyed our Dining club outing to Morso on the Chamerlayne Road, where the desserts proved delicious. Café Club, Craft Club and tennis continue to draw their regulars as we head into the winter.
We were all very happy to have our first meeting at the Mason’s Arms in October and very lucky to have a great speaker, Peter Hain, who took lots of questions about South Africa both in the apartheid era and now. We plan to be in the Mason’s Arms over the winter months except of course in December, when we traditionally party at someone’s house. Chat and a cuppa has got off to a great start on Mondays with good attendance and is likely to be more popular as the evenings get darker.
Craft and book clubs continue to be via zoom and tennis will resume next month when we’re all back from our travels.
The month got off to a great start with the return of Dining Club. Seven of us went to The Waterway for our first restaurant meal in far too long and we all enjoyed it, so more are planned. Our zoom Café Club started up again on Monday afternoons.
On 8th September we were joined on Zoom by Simon John, who provided us with an excellent insight into the phenomenon of Modern Slavery. Simon provided some horrifying statistics relating to the life expectancy of women who have been trafficked and forced into prostitution. Internationally, he explored the link between cheap merchandise purchased here in the UK and the exploitation of workers involved in the production elsewhere. Simon said that if we were to suspect coercion, in relation to a person working in a nail bar or car wash, we should not address the issue directly, but inform authorities such as https://www.modernslaveryhelpline.org/report .
We had a couple of very enjoyable walks this month too (the weather has been so much better than August), one along the Thames to Teddington complete with a pub lunch and another to Kew Gardens. Written by Angela
We all enjoyed Ilona’s Iconic Dance Moves sessions where some of us remembered how to do the Locomotion, although I’m not sure our feet were moving in time with our arms. It was a month for walks, with Frances leading us on a very nice walk from Amersham via lunch at a pub in Little Missenden and a visit to the church there before a longer afternoon walk over a hill and back to a temporary cafe for refreshments before we all headed home. Later in the month the sun came out for our walk through Victoria Park and along the Regent’s Canal to oh-so-cool Haggerston where we had a very enjoyable lunch followed by a final stroll to catch the train at Camden Road. Tennis has continued through August with new recruits enabling us to keep going. This month’s book missed the mark, with most readers giving it the thumbs down or at best neutral. Hey, ho onto the next book.
We had a lovely picnic in Queen’s Park to celebrate mid-Summer. It was good to meet and chat in person as well as a chance to meet our new members. There was a lively discussion at Culture Club following the second play ‘The Time of Your Life’ by the Gecko Theatre company. Summer walks have continued with a very enjoyable stroll along the Thames from Richmond to Mortlake including a pub lunch at Kew. Tennis continues with more members joining in Coffee afterwards always helps!
Tennis continued with a fifth member joining us so we can keep playing when one of us is not available. Coffee afterwards is being enhanced by specially baked treats to help us replace the calories we have lost playing. For our monthly meeting we had a tour of Piccadilly and St James called “Putting on the Ritz”, given by Tina, a blue badge guide. We heard about various characters from the worlds of high society and finance as well as quacks and dandies who lived in the area over the last couple of centuries. Everyone enjoyed the tour and some of us went on for a drink before heading home. We had two adventures outside of London in June, one to the Chilterns where a great time was had by all and another to the seaside at Margate where we walked around the coast to Broadstairs where we all enjoyed scrumptious ice-creams. Craft and book clubs continued, with members joining in for a chat even if they hadn’t a project on the go or read the book, which is how it should be.
Monday cuppa and chat and Tuesday café walks continued this month, allowing members to meet up in a socially distanced fashion. We also enjoyed the azaleas and rhododendrons in full bloom in Richmond Park, which we combined with a visit to Petersham Nurseries and a walk back along the Thames to Richmond station. There was also a very enjoyable walk along the River Chess in sunny weather, which made up for the dull, grey days of this month. Tulip Siddiq, local MP for many of us, gave us a lovely talk on what it was like to grow up in Hampstead, how she became an MP and how she manages life as a working mother. We read the Bee Keeper of Aleppo which most of us found to be a good but intense read. And last, but not least, we went to the ballet and watched Winterisse by The Ballet Zurich. An excellent production which many of us would not otherwise have seen.
Where did April go? In a whirlwind of walks – an average of two group walks a week mostly in local parks and some further afield, as well as other self-organised walks. We have all been keen to get out and see the blossom and bluebells and took in the menagerie in Golders Hill park, some of us remembering going there as children. We have all enjoyed catching up in larger groups, taking the opportunity for coffee and sometimes something stronger. We started playing tennis again although we’ll need more players as we’re all planning to be away at various times over the summer. Penny gave us a most interesting talk on the history of marriage and divorce in England which was beautifully illustrated. Many of us enjoyed reading ‘The Carer’ by Deborah Moggach and we had a good discussion. We had a virtual cultural night when we watched Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s production of ‘Chroma, Grace, Takademe, Revelations’ on YouTube, simultaneously gathering before and after the performance to chat as you would at a normal theatre outing.
The clocks have changed and restrictions have eased. We lost no time in arranging to meet in groups of six for walks in our local parks. It was lovely to see Chloe, our youngest member, who cheered us all up as she is of course getting bigger every time we see her. We started the month with some excellent tales and anecdotes of her time as a Prison Governor from Chris Duffin. We ended the month with some very good advice from NatWest about how to avoid fraud and scams and what to do if we have fallen victim. In between we discussed Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholl at our book club. Jigsaw puzzles continue to circulate and some of us are becoming very proficient at completing them. Many of us kept up our walks in pairs until the restrictions eased and of course there was our Monday afternoon zoom sessions which are always good for a chat.
Written by Angela