Air Raid Shelter Café and Tea Room

In Mid Bucks, their morning of informal conversation, coffee and cake for September will be at the Air Raid Shelter Café and Tea Room in the Chilterns Centre in High Wycombe. This is the cafe’s brilliant mural which has been repainted to show spitfires over the white cliffs of Dover. More information on the Mid Bucks Section of the Regional Events pages.


Regional News

It’s now six months since most of our lives changed. Who would have thought 2020 would turn out the way it has, and who knows what will have happened between me writing this column and you reading it? As our Leicester members know too well, we could be in lockdown again. The British Mensa Annual Gathering due to take place in Manchester 11th-14th September has been cancelled, but will be rescheduled for 2021. In the meantime, there are online events planned for that weekend so check the Mensa website and your email inbox for news.

Please consider joining our Regional Facebook group if you can. I am going to try something different at 7.00pm on Thursday 24th September with an online quiz. I’ll post a variety of general knowledge questions on our Facebook group with the answers a little later that evening. This is a chance for you to get involved from the comfort of your own home and perhaps learn some trivia. It’s just for fun with no prizes, but please join us! Don’t forget you’ll need to be subscribed to the East Midlands Mensa Facebook group beforehand in order to take part.

Thank you to all officers of East Midlands Mensa for attempting to keep things going as normally as possible in this challenging year. We have a great team, and if you now have a bit of extra spare time and would like to get a little more involved, please do get in touch. I’m on [Phone Number] or [Email]. I look forward to meeting lots of you in due course, but in the meantime continue to stay safe.

Maxine Bates

Regional Officer


Welcome to the September edition of Empress. Hopefully by now you have all been able to get out and about, suitably masked, to do more than a daily walk. Have you been to a cinema, theatre, restaurant or pub? How was it? We would love to hear your news and views about how your lives have changed (or not) since March 2020. I know not everyone is anxious to start mixing in large numbers again, but with a bit of careful planning at least some of the events in these pages will be going ahead. I hope you all enjoy a safe return to some sort of normality in the coming months.

You can email your comments to We love to hear from you, especially if you haven’t sent anything in before.

Carole Pollard

Events and Meetings

In the current circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus, the expectation is that all events listed here are likely to be cancelled, if not already marked as such. If you intend participating in any event listed here, please contact the event organiser beforehand to confirm that the event is still on.
photo of Susan Graves

Derby Diary

On Wed 16th Sep at 7:30pm - 3WOTM Online

Here’s our monthly Derby meeting on Zoom. Of course you don’t need to live in Derby to join us for a chat. It’s likely to last for about an hour and twenty minutes. If you haven’t used Zoom before I’m happy to have a trial call with you. Please contact me for the Zoom link and with any questions. Contact Susan on [Phone Number] or [Email]

Susan Graves

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] / [Mobile Number] for details

photo of Steve Thomas

Hertfordshire Happenings

On Thu 3rd Sep at 8:00pm - FThOTM

Once again, we are hoping to be at the Three Magnets, Leys Avenue, Letchworth. Thursday is traditionally curry night, but other food is also available (standard Wetherspoons fare). Leys Avenue is the main shopping street in Letchworth and is just a few minutes' walk from the rail station. Please call me on [Phone Number], or email [Email] to confirm whether this meeting is still taking place.

On Fri 25th Sep at 8:00pm - LFOTM

As ever, we are planning to be at the Cowper Arms, Digswell. The pub is next to Welwyn North station and is served by stopping trains from Kings Cross to Cambridge. Good food, beer and conversation guaranteed! Please call me on [Phone Number] to confirm whether this meeting is still taking place, dependent upon the COVID-19 situation.

Steve Thomas

Contact [Email] or [Mobile Number] for details

photo of Haydn Starkie

In Leicestershire

On Mon 21st Sep at 8:00pm - Pub Social

Join me for our usual convivial third Monday of the month gathering at the Cradock Arms, 201 Knighton Road, Leicester, LE2 3TT. You are welcome to bring a friend or partner. Look out for the Mblem or Magazine. If you need any directions or encouragement, please contact me on [Phone Number] or at [Email].

On Sat 26th Sep at 7:00pm - Pub Meal

As we didn't do this in July, we are dining at the Cheney Arms, 2 Rearsby Lane, Gaddesby, LE7 4XE on the last Saturday of the month. Booking in advance is essential so please let me know if you want to join us by 19th Sept. Contact me by phone [Phone Number] or e-mail [Email]

Haydn Starkie

Contact [Email] or [Mobile Number] for details

photo of Jacquie Harrison

Lively Lincs

On Sat 12th Sep at 12:00pm - SSOTM pub discussion

Topic this month: “What challenge have you faced that you do not want to face again?” Contact Jacquie to confirm whether pub or online meeting. The pub venue is the Adam & Eve Tavern opposite Pottergate Arch. An online meeting will use Zoom, please request the link. All welcome. Contact Jacquie on [Phone Number] or [Email].

On Tue 15th Sep at 2:00pm - Walk/birdwatching

We plan to meet at Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve near Skegness for a proper walk or birdwatching. We'll split into groups if necessary on the day – please bring your binoculars if you wish to birdwatch. Basic facilities are open there but not the hides. All welcome, but essential to contact Jacquie to confirm on [Phone Number] or [Email].

Jacquie Harrison

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] / [Mobile Number] for details

photo of Val Hinkins

Mid Bucks

On Sun 6th Sep at 2:00pm - Games Afternoon

Please join Dave and Alison on-line for a relaxed and informal afternoon of board games and chat. All members and friends are welcome. We will be using and Skype for discussion. For further dates, information, directions &/or connection details please contact Dave a few days beforehand. Either telephone him on [Phone Number] or e-mail to [Email]

On Fri 18th Sep at 10:30am - Coffee & Chat

Join me at the Air Raid Shelter Café and Tea Room in the Chilterns Centre, HP13 5ES for relaxed conversation, cake and coffee. This café has a WWII theme and has added new 1940’s memorabilia – including a car! Look for us inside the shelter at the back of the café. Please let me know you are coming a few days before on [Phone Number] or e-mail me at [Email]

For further details or encouragement contact me on [Phone Number] or e-mail me at [Email]

Val Hinkins

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

photo of Jo Sidebottom

Mensans in MK & Bedford

On Thu 3rd Sep at 6:30pm - Dinner

Let’s have a socially distanced meal out at the Prince George in Tattenhoe, ideally outside if weather permits. Booking essential by Monday 31st August so that I can secure a table. Contact Jo at [Email], or [Phone Number] / [Phone Number] for directions/encouragement.

On Mon 21st Sep at 7:45pm - 3MOTM Quiz

Our monthly quiz outing to The Plough at Simpson. Meet from 7.45 for a 8.00pm start - cost is £1 per person. Please let me know if you are coming so I know if we will be one team or two. Contact Jo at [Email], or [Phone Number] / [Phone Number] for directions/encouragement. Alternatively this may take place via Zoom

On Sun 27th Sep at 10:00am - Breakfast

Join us at Brown's on Midsummer Boulevard from 10am for a full breakfast, a snack, or just a drink. Contact Jo at [Email], or [Phone Number] / [Phone Number] for directions/encouragement. Alternatively this may take place via Zoom.

Just a reminder about our M-MK & Bedford Facebook group – if you would like to join please search for the group and send me a request. I also keep an email distribution list for meeting reminders and any last-minute changes, so if you would like to be added to this please let me know.

We hope to see as many of you as possible at one or other of our events this month. Do remember that you’re welcome to bring a guest with you, so if you’ve never been to a Mensa event and are a little nervous about coming along on your own, just bring a friend.

Jo Sidebottom

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] / [Mobile Number] for details

News from Northampton

photo of Maxine Bates

Notts News

On Sat 5th Sep at 8:00pm - 5OTM

The Vat & Fiddle pub on Queensbridge Road (near Nottingham railway station) advise their opening hours are subject to change. Please check whether we are able to meet this month. Contact Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email] in advance.

On Thu 10th Sep at 7:30pm - Natter & Nosh

We may be able to meet for our regular meal at The Cadland pub/restaurant, High Road, Chilwell, with a limited number of us. Contact Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email] to express interest and find out please.

On Tue 15th Sep at 7:00pm - 3TuOTM

Will we be able to meet at the Fox & Crown, 4-6 Appleton Gate, Newark, this month? Please check with Pete on [Phone Number] or [Email]

On Sun 20th Sep at 11:00am - Sherwood Forest Trail

An event specially for Mensans with children and Junior Mensans, though everyone is welcome. We will be doing one of the trails around the lovely Sherwood Forest Free entry, but there is a cost for parking. Please let me know if you are coming, so I can select the right level of trail. Christina [Phone Number], [Email].

On Thu 24th Sep at 7:00pm - Online Quiz

Log onto the East Midlands Mensa Facebook group where general knowledge questions will be posted. Just for fun, but interact with other members and perhaps learn some trivia from the comfort of your own home!

On Tue 29th Sep at 7:30pm - Eating Meeting

Moda Italian restaurant, Annesley Road, Hucknall, NG15 7DE, should be open for business again. Contact Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email] by 22nd to reserve your place.

Ciao for now!

Maxine Bates

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

Learning and Luck in Lockdown!

Maxine, wearing her 'I am a quiz nuts genius' t-shirt behind the dust buster prize

During Lockdown, East Mids Regional Officer, Maxine Bates, has found herself taking part in a serious amount of quizzing. She has been posting a weekly general knowledge quiz on the East Midlands Mensa Facebook group and has also enjoyed taking part in weekly quizzes posted by a Facebook friend who runs a local quiz league.

Not usually a TV viewer she has taken to watching Tenable, Tipping Point, The Chase, Pointless and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire on both current TV and rerun channels. However, her partner introduced her to the Quiz Nuts app - run by Bauer Media there's the opportunity to answer 15 questions on 12 subjects twice a day, with prizes up for grabs. So far she has won a Black & Decker cordless dust buster, plus a winner T-shirt for agreeing to be photographed in it with her prize. She is now addicted to Quiz Nuts in an attempt to gain more trivia knowledge and win more goodies! Is this a Lockdown hobby, or will it continue? Watch this space.

Remembering Sandra Dowe

We are shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Sandra Dowe, who was well known to members of the Hearing Impaired SIG as she had been SIG Sec for many years.

Sandra was also a local Milton Keynes member, and had been a regular at the T@3 get-togethers over the past couple of years.

Sandra was lively and entertaining company; a caring person who was always interested in what others had to say. She will be missed by everyone who knew her and our thoughts are with her close friends and family.

Family Mensa Event

On Sunday 20th September at 11am, there is a Family Mensa Event, specially for Mensans with children, and Junior Mensans, though everyone is welcome.

We will be doing one of the trails around the lovely Sherwood Forest. Free Entry, but there is a cost for parking.

Please let me know if you are coming, so I can select the right level of trail.

If you have any questions about the event, or to book a place, please contact me direct.

Christina Andersen-Bacon [Phone Number][Email]


Thank you to Rachel Hargreave Mawson who has sent us her topical poem.

Temperature and cough together Stay indoors whate’er the weather Shut the doors and stay inside But keep your windows open wide Wash your hands with lots of soap That’s the greatest way to cope Keep your distance; and you must Wear a mask on board the bus Lose your smell and lose your taste Get thee to another place Fourteen nights must you remain Before you see the world again.

We’re always pleased to hear from you with your poetry, prose or photographs. Please send your contributions to

Craft Sig Profile

Frontpage of 'Craftophile', with a painted plate of flowers
Craft SIG newsletter 113 featuring a ceramic plate painted, glazed and fired by Katherine Badman.

The Craft SIG exists to celebrate and encourage craft work of all types and levels within Mensa, using the newsletter, Craftophile, to showcase members’ work. Currently there are over 350 members, with around 10% based outside the UK. About 30 members come from the East Midlands and include some of the most prolific contributors to Craftophile, as well as Shirley Williams, who founded the Craft SIG in April 1994 with 15 members.

Besides the well-established crafts of sewing, card-making, knitting etc which you’d expect, the Craft SIG has members who create projects with 3-D printing or LED components, use electronic embroidery and knitting machines, design and build working models in metal, practise upholstery, spinning, sugar craft, origami, mosaics, calligraphy. the list (and members’ ingenuity) is almost limitless. First attempts at a craft are welcomed as much as professional achievements.

Craftophile includes reports on exhibitions such as the international Festival of Quilts, ‘how to’ articles, reviews of equipment or techniques, opportunities to meet (like the tours of Wedgwood and the Royal School of Needlework), plus a regular puzzle page and craft challenges for the members where entrants can win a small prize.

Anne Ruston (7th SIG Sec and newsletter editor from June 2012)

Pinnacle of Achievement II

Ian sitting in front of a large cross
At The Summit

This is Ian Sargent’s tale of his challenging climb up Carrauntoohil in September 2015. He mentioned the trip on the East Mids Facebook group recently and was persuaded to share the experience here :

Those with a copy of the January 2011 Empress may remember my walk up the highest mountain in Northern Ireland: Slieve Donard. Then a conversation at a Mensa meeting led to thoughts of the highest peak in the Republic: Carrauntoohil, down in the south-west. So, in September 2015 I headed to Killarney.

On the Tuesday I drove towards the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range, via increasingly narrow country lanes to Cronin’s Yard, an advantageous start point with a car park, café and toilets.

It’s a 75-minute trek up the Gaddagh valley. Not easy as the track comprises rocks that have been spread with no grading or packing down. The farmer probably doesn’t notice in his Land Rover but your ankles do! The mountain comes into view, the summit skimmed by clouds. At the head of the valley you have to pick your way across boulders, streams and boggy patches. Up to now the gradient is barely noticeable but now to tackle a section I’m not looking forward to.

The Devil’s Ladder is a steep, rocky, stretch requiring a lot of clambering and scrambling. On the ridge, between two peaks, a cold wind whips up from the valley on the other side, taking a bit of effort to stand up against it. Another rest before I head off on the last section towards the summit. Away from the ridge the wind dies down so I’m now just battling against the slope rather than the elements, finally reaching the top nearly 4 hours after setting off.

The wind picks up again, bringing in waves of clouds. You get a good view for a few seconds then wreathed in mist. A circular stone wall offers a refuge in which to sit, eat lunch and chat with four other walkers (there’s 100 or so on the mountain today). I walk back down to the ridge and have to make a decision. Coming up the Devil’s Ladder was the hardest climb I’ve ever attempted and probably on the limits of what I’m capable of. I don’t really want to go back down it; one slip and you’ve a broken ankle or worse.

Two people from the summit catch up and say that they are going up the next peak: Cnoe na Toinne, from which a zig-zag path leads down. I walk with them up the second mountain just to come back down on a path on which I feel much more comfortable. It takes longer than the Devil’s Ladder route but as I’m tired it’s the safer option. Down in the valley I break out the chocolate ration and water, knowing I’ve another 75 minutes of walking (I feel every single step).

Back at Cronin’s Yard, 7½ hours after setting off, I grab a cold drink from the café and, sit in the late afternoon sun reflecting on how the day went. Carrauntoohil has been on my wish list for five years so now I’m going to have to find something else to do.

Ian Sargent

20 Questions (No. 227)

The NHS abbreviations from July were Health Care Assistant, Minor Injuries Unit, Liver Function Test, Day Surgery Unit, Urinary Tract Infection, Care Quality Commission, Acute Kidney Injury, Full Blood Count (also Full Business Case), End Of Life, General Ophthalmic Services, Did Not Attend, Chest X-Ray, Out Of Hours, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Coronary Care Unit, Community Acquired Pneumonia, Examination Under Anaesthetic, Shortness Of Breath, Long Term Conditions and Do Not Resuscitate. The winner of the £10 book token is David Crozier of St Albans – Congratulations!

We can’t travel much at the moment, but unscramble the names of these countries and hope we can get to some of them soon. Send your answers to arrive by 20th September by post to ‘20 Questions (No. 227)’, [Address] or by email to [Email] for your chance to win. Don’t forget to include your name and address!


















18. MAIL