Photo of John Wheaver inset in the top right corner of a landscape over Grinzane Cavour
Are you a wine connoisseur? Or an enthusiast who would like to know more? Wine SIG could be for you. Read more below

Regional News

As usual we have an array of social events for you this month. But if you’re unable to join us due to work, family, financial or mobility reasons don’t forget there are other ways to benefit from your Mensa membership. Why not join some Special Interest Groups? And if you opt to receive newsletters electronically you’re not even limited to the number you can join! There’s something for everyone so take a look at what’s available on

Alternatively why not compile a ‘20 questions’ quiz for this newsletter? You’ll get a credit for your efforts and be able to test other members on your specialist subject. New quizzes are always welcome and can be sent to me by post or email.

I’m on [Phone Number] or [Email] if you have suggestions for future events or general comments about your membership.

Maxine Bates

Regional Officer


This is the last Empress I’m editing for a few months and I think I’m going to miss it! I’m planning on spending the next few months coming up with ideas for new and interesting things to include in Empress – so if any of you have any thoughts or suggestions, please feel free to let me know. In the meantime, Nick will be editing for the next few months so please send any content through to him. (Contact details for both of us on page 8).

I hope you all have a lovely Easter and I’ll be back in January 2016 for my next Empress!

Lucy Bengry

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 Val Hinkins

Mid Bucks

On Fri 17th Apr at 10.30am - Conversation and coffee

Meet me from 10.30am onwards for a morning of informal conversation and coffee. This month we are returning to The Cape, Station Road, Beaconsfield, HP9 1NN. This South African themed restaurant is a short walk from the railway station. It offers a full cooked breakfast as well as many varieties of coffee, tea, cakes and biscuits. For further information on the venue see

On Sun 26th Apr at 10.30am - Walk

Come and enjoy a 4.5 mile circular walk from Studley Green garden centre, taking in the bluebells in Bottom Wood. This is a favourite route, with gentle gradients and no stiles, although it can be muddy in places after heavy rain. The bluebells should be just coming out and you can expect to see red kites flying. If we are quiet enough we may surprise some muntjac deer as well. The garden centre is at the western end of Studley Green on the A40. There is a large open air car park adjacent to the A40. On Sundays it is also served by the Vale Travel route no 48 bus service, which runs between High Wycombe and Stokenchurch. Meet outside the garden centre to start walking at 10.30am. We expect to return by 1.30pm so, if you prefer not to do the walk, please join us at the café for a late lunch. For further details or encouragement contact me.

Val Hinkins

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

photo of Christine Howells

Lively Lincs

On Sat 11th Apr at 12.00pm - 2SaOTM

Our regular 2SaOTM pub discussion at the Adam and Eve on Lindum Hill, Lincoln will be on 'To frack or not to frack?' Doubtless there will be plenty of other discussion and general chat, from about 12.00pm ish until we all wander off several hours later. Pub lunch available, free car park, look for the Mblem - we're usually in the alcove.

On Thu 23rd Apr at 7.00pm - Eating meeting

For our midweek eating meeting we're returning to another of our regulars, Thai no. 1 on the Bailgate in Lincoln. 7.00pm, all welcome, as ever, but please book with me by 20th April if you can, thanks.

Christine Howells

Contact [Email] for details

photo of Bob Ford

Luton Leisure

On Tue 7th Apr at 7.00pm - FTuOTM

At the ‘Brache’ Beefeater, Osborne Road, opposite the Vauxhall Design Building from 7.00pm. There is parking on site. Come along for a drink and a chat, or just the chat. Food is available at the bar or in the restaurant from the same menu. New faces will be welcome to join our group. Contact me for directions or more details.

Bob Ford

Contact [Email] or [Mobile Number] for details

photo of Jo Sidebottom

Mensans in MK & Bedford

On Sun 5th Apr at 10.00am - Sunday breakfast

Cancelled. Carluccio’s is closed all day Easter Sunday. Rearranged for the 26th. Sunday breakfast will at 10.00am at Carluccio’s in the Centre:MK. You will probably find us in one of the red booths just in front of the restaurant – look for the Mblem on a table. Come for a full breakfast, a snack, or just a drink. Contact me for directions and/or encouragement.

On Tue 14th Apr at 7:30pm - Eating meeting

We’ll be in Bedford for a visit to an old favourite, the Sizzling Wok in The Broadway. This is a Mongolian barbecue restaurant where you select your own raw meat, vegetables, spices and sauces and give them to the chefs to stir-fry for you. It’s all-you-can-eat so if you don’t get it quite right first time, you can have another go. Please let me know by Sunday 12th April if you plan to come, so I can book a table.

On Mon 20th Apr at 8.30pm - Quiz

Our monthly outing to the Barge in Woolstone for the quiz. Meet from 8.30pm - the quiz starts at 9.00pm and costs £1.00 per person. Look out for the Mblem on a table. Please let me know if you plan to come so I can bag a large enough table contact me for directions and/or encouragement.

On Sun 26th Apr at 10.00am - Sunday breakfast

Rearranged from the 5th, Sunday breakfast will at 10.00am at Carluccio’s in the Centre:MK. You will probably find us in one of the red booths just in front of the restaurant – look for the Mblem on a table. Come for a full breakfast, a snack, or just a drink. Contact me for directions and/or encouragement.

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 last-minute changes, so if you would like to be added please let me know. We hope to see you at one of our events in April. You’re welcome to bring a guest, so if you’re a little nervous about coming along on your own, just bring a friend.

Jo Sidebottom

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

photo of Maxine Bates

Notts News

On Sun 5th Apr at 8.00pm - 5OTM

Our “5th of the month” event falls on Easter Sunday, so why not pop along to the Vat & Fiddle on Queensbridge Road and share your chocolate eggs!? We meet from 8.00pm and can usually be found in the Goldings Room to the left of the bar. It’s not a big room and a yellow Mblem should make us easy to spot. Real ale brewed at the adjacent Castle Rock brewery is usually popular but you’re just as welcome to order a diet Coke or coffee.

On Thu 9th Apr at 7.30pm - Natter & nosh

From 7.30pm we’ll be at the Beekeeper pub/restaurant on Meadow Lane in Beeston. Join us for food and/or drink. If you see me before ordering food we should still have some 25% discount vouchers making this a very good value night out.

On Tue 28th Apr at 7.30pm - Eating meeting

This month’s “eating meeting” takes place at The Banyan Tree Indian restaurant, 520 Mansfield Road, Redhill, at 7.30pm. See for directions and menu. Our curry fests are usually quite popular so reserve your place with me by 24th April latest please.

Ciao for now!

Maxine Bates

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

Derby Diary

On Wed 15th Apr at 7.30pm - 3WOTM

There’s the option of eating by day or night this month. From 7.30pm on we meet in the rear section of the Standing Order on Irongate in the city centre. This is the earliest date our “3rd Wednesday” event can fall. Just look for a yellow Mblem on a long table and hopefully some smiley faces with it! Come along for a meal or just a drink. New faces welcome.

On Thu 23rd Apr at 2.00pm - English afternoon tea

To celebrate St George’s Day we’re going for a traditional English afternoon tea at Sweet Temptations Tea Rooms on Church Street in Ripley. I’ve booked a table for 2.00pm and the cost is £7.95 per person for a selection of sandwiches, cakes, scones and tea. This is a discounted rate as the owner is a friend of mine. Please contact me to reserve your place by 16th April. I realise a lot of people will be working but hopefully those of you who work shifts or are stay-at-home mothers or retirees will be able to join us.

Maxine Bates

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

More or Leicester

On Sun 12th Apr at 2.00pm - Multimedia tour

Something different for April as we go on a multimedia tour of Leicester’s Cultural Quarter, bringing the area to life through poetry, plays and narrative using a mobile phone app. I thought we’d start at 2.00pm, giving you time for a nice lunch somewhere first. The meeting point is to be confirmed, so let me know you’re coming beforehand so I can keep you up to date!

On Thu 23rd Apr at 8.00pm - 4ThOTM

It’s Shakespeare’s birthday, St. George’s Day and – most importantly – the date of our fourth-Thursday get together! Usual place (The Craddock), usual time (8.00pm), usual spot (Look out for the magazine and/or Mblem in the lower bit).

Paul Coulson

photo of Richard Allen

Hertfordshire Happenings

On Thu 2nd Apr at 8.15pm - FThOTM

Spring is in the air! Come and start the Easter weekend with us! As ever, we're at the Millstream, Cambridge Road, Hitchin from 8.15pm. Good food and good beer both available! Call me for more details and encouragement. The pub is about ten minutes' walk from the railway station.

On Fri 24th Apr at 8.00pm - LFOTM

As always, we're at the Cowper Arms, Digswell from 8.00pm. It’s by Welwyn North railway station, which is served by stopping trains from Kings Cross to Cambridge and Peterborough. Good food and good beer both available! Call me for more details and encouragement.

Richard Allen

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

Lakes Party Weekend

6th – 9th November 2015

A weekend based at CenterParcs Whinfell Forest resort in the beautiful Lake District.

Package includes:

  • 3 nights’ accommodation in a twin/double room
  • 3 parties (2 with optional fancy dress theme)
  • Some buffet meals
  • Help-yourself bar throughout the weekend including cocktail of the day
  • Unlimited access to the sub-tropical swimming paradise
  • Plus walks, quizzes, sausage tasting, board games and much more.

All ages welcome.

Cost from £150 per person.

See for full details or contact Maxine on [Phone Number]

Spotlight On… Wine SIG

John Wheaver looking down at a wine glass during a tasting
L'Ordine dei Cavalieri del Tartufo e dei Vini di Alba - in the Castello of Grinzane Cavour

I moved to Wellingborough in 2008, from Milton Keynes. Before that I lived in Olney, which though technically in Buckinghamshire felt it belonged more with Northampton. But originally years ago – I am Brummie. I dipped my toe into community affairs while in Olney, on the Town Council until I moved; and the County Council until two years after I had moved to MK. I remained a governor of two schools and MK College for several years. The nearest I have yet come to community activity in my new home is to join the Wellingborough Orpheus choir. Next performance - Mozart’s Requiem. Great.

My interest in wine started when I married in 1963. The occasional half bottle of Nuits St Georges in a local restaurant and in 50 years led to me being in Nuits with its deputy mayor, and thence to a Chapitre of the Chevaliers du Tastevin. One of the high points. I was then, and always, an engineer, but it was writing about wine in the 1970s that took me in 2013 to Burgundy. Heading for the source of one Piedmontese wine - Grignolino - led me to Barbaresco and Barolo in 1967. This led to articles on wines of the Nebbiolo grape, which led to my being for 25 years the only UK member of the Wine Confraternity of the Barolo district, and to accompanying its - lady - Grand Master to the ceremony at Clos de Vougeot.

In 1984 I made a start on importing wine from Barolo, in partnership with a neighbour starting a new restaurant on Olney High Street two doors away from my home. He had a lot of enthusiasm - and a perfect cellar. But his brand of enthusiasm meant that once the restaurant was running as a great success it bored him and he moved on. Berry Brother and Rudd - among the top flight of importers - discovered the same cellar about two years ago, so after 30 years you can get it again. Oh, and Jancis Robinson now says that Barolo is the NEXT big thing. Oh good.

Wine Appreciation SIG is for connoisseurs and novices alike. There is a regular newsletter which will focus on a different wine-producing region each time, a section exploring the best value wine on offer in the shops and other interesting tips to make it the perfect SIG for any wine lover. The newsletter will also contain listings of wine related events across the country and recommendations of great wine in restaurants and bars from members. If you would like further information please contact John on [Email] or download a sample newsletter at

John Wheaver

20 Questions (No. 163)

The answers to the February competition were clam chowder, couch potato, Cape Cod, Monster Mash, Erica Roe, Smash, fish farms, call the whole thing off, onions, Wayne Slob, Sharks, Scarborough, Samuel Goldwyn, Jersey Royal, false, Mashed Potato and The Twist, Vinegar Joe, Goodbye Mr Chips, coelacanth and clamp. Entries were received from Chris Impey of Tring, Pamela Covey of Woburn, D W Dell of Leighton Buzzard, Roger Lord of Aylesbury, Rita Beeson of Bedfordshire, Alex Foster of Derby, David Crozier of St Albans, Patrick Cavanagh of Ireland, Andy Cole of Cleethorpes and Peter Edwards of Hertfordshire. David wins the £10 book token. Well done!

This month we have a royal quiz set by Mark Sloan. Send your entries to ‘20 Questions (No. 163)’ by post to [Address] or by email to [Email] to arrive by 20th April. Don’t forget to include your name and address.

1. The Queen has four dorgis. A dorgi is a cross between a corgi and which other dog?

2. Which King ruled England from 871 to 899?

3. Who was the first monarch to use Buckingham Palace as the official residence?

4. The last British King to die in battle was James IV of Scotland but in which battle?

5. Who was murdered in 1327 at Berkeley Castle on the orders of his wife Isabella?

6. Which British monarch was known as The Sailor King?

7. What was 32 inches in 1512, 35 inches by the 1520s, and then 54 inches in 1545?

8. Who was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England?

9. What is Sir Norman Hartnell's biggest claim to fame?

10. Which king was known as Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots?

11. What was the name of the Queen's yacht which was de-commissioned in 1997?

12. Which British monarch was the last Emperor of India and the first Head of the Commonwealth?

13. Which king met the leader of the Peasant's Revolt, Wat Tyler, at Smithfield in 1381?

14. Which Australian city was named after the queen consort to King William IV?

15. Where is Queen Elizabeth I buried?

16. Who was the most famous mistress of King Charles II?

17. Who became king of Spain in 1975, two days after Franco's death?

18. During which monarch's reign was Calais lost to the French?

19. Who became the first Hanoverian king?

20. King Bhumibol Adulyadej celebrated 60 years on the throne of which country in 2006?