The Lakes Party Weekend 2016

We take over the best area of the best CenterParcs village, throw parties each night, with a help-yourself bar included, and enjoy the nearby Lake District or the on-site subtropical swimming paradise and other activities during the daytime. What a formula for a great weekend! We have been doing this since the CenterParcs village opened near Penrith 18 years ago, and we’ve refined it so there’s a full weekend programme of activities - hiking, quizzes, fancy dress parties, tastings, pub lunches, and playing in the pool.

The Lakes Party Weekend 4th - 7th November 2016 Whinfell Forest CenterParcs, Penrith, Cumbria Price from £150 per person

Regional News

This month we welcome Richard Dimmock of Milton Keynes as a new Empress editor. Richard will share the rota with Maria but we do have a vacancy for one more volunteer to join our editorial team. So if you’ve been thinking about it now is the time to get in touch! Please contact me for further information.

The Mensa calendar is shaping up nicely with a mixture of intellectual and social events being organised for you. Think At Oxford takes place 2nd-3rd April and the theme this year is “1960s: Science & Diplomacy”. As usual the Irish Mensa Annual Gathering takes places over the first May bank holiday weekend which will be 29th April to 2nd May with the location being Wexford. Mensa Wales are hosting a fun weekend of sightseeing and socialising in and around Newport 17th-20th June. Mensa At Cambridge takes place 18th-21st August with the theme of “Magic Relationships”. And not forgetting the British Mensa Annual Gathering hosted in London Docklands 23rd-26th September to celebrate the society’s 70th anniversary. For details of all these events go to or contact the Mensa office. Also keep Saturday 1st October free if you’d like to join us on the actual anniversary as I’m organising a 1940s themed event at the Radisson Blu Hotel East Midlands Airport. Further details will appear on as everything is finalised.

I look forward to meeting you at one of our future events. As always feel free to contact me on [Phone Number] or [Email] if you have comments, event ideas or feedback on your Mensa membership.

Maxine Bates

Regional Officer


Welcome to the April Edition of Empress.

Lots of things happening this month. We have a new Editor, Richard Dimmock, who will alternate the editing of Empress with me.

We are also starting the Theatre Season with a number of plays to satisfy your cultural needs, as well as the usual local events, to satisfy your socialising ones.

Maria Falces

Member Profile

Potrait photo of Richard Dimmock
1.- Name and location?
Richard Dimmock. Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
2.- What is your occupation?
I am retired, and actually now I am working harder than ever. Sadly too many friends and relations around me died within a year of retirement. I believe activity, both physical and mental is essential for longevity. I worked in the printing industries, obviously not digital printing, as computers had not been invented when I started. During those 37 years I had 5 jobs, but in my last position was told my services were no longer required. At 52 I re-trained as a teacher and taught for 10 years, but had to retire early due to a knee injury.
3.- When did you join Mensa?
About 19 years ago, just before I left industry. I was feeling very down and disillusioned and felt I needed reassurance. I have always felt I could join Mensa, but I never felt the need earlier on.
4.- Why did you join?
When you lose your job after 14 years, through no fault of your own, you have doubts about yourself. Joining Mensa gave me that boost to enable me to retrain and change career at the age of 52.
5.- Have you attended any events?
I attended the Diamond Gathering 10 years ago and gave two "M2M" talks. The weekend was well organised and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I enjoyed it very much as well. I attended another more locally and gave a talk there as well.
6.- Do you belong to any SIGs?
I do not belong to any SIGs, but I feel I should, and I will as soon as I can, or maybe start my own,
7.- Hobbies/interests?

My hobbies are a little like my jobs through life, a few of them, and most, long lasting; Magic, has featured in my life for 60 years.

Although I perform very little these days, the magic I perform is of my own design and I never get the shout: ‘We have seen that before’. When I do perform now I need to practice though, whereas in my heyday my shows were my practice. Drawing, I have spent slightly less time than magic, about 55 years. In my teens I drew sketches and these usually only took me minutes to complete. Today my drawings are very different. I draw to a ‘vision’. Once I get my ‘vision’, I search for colour photos on the internet and draw those. My ‘vision’ is in ‘shades of grey’, and that is how I achieve my detail and accuracy drawing direct from colour. Drawing took on a new meaning to me two years ago as ‘recuperation therapy’.

I have never smoked, but I describe my drawing now as ‘chain drawing’. When I complete one picture, I start the next. Yoga, actually after 50 years this has become a way of life and not just a hobby. It started when I was diagnosed with a nasty stomach ulcer at 19.

I had two options at the time, take Valium or start yoga. I took the latter and within three months my ulcer had completely gone. My yoga has continued ever since. My regime covers all four disciplines; Deep Relaxation, Deep Breathing, Postures and Meditation, and for most days of my life. My main interests are my close family and playing bowls.

8.- Anything else?
I am married to Tricia and next year we celebrate 50 years of marriage. Next year we also both become 70. We have a daughter Tanya and two grandchildren, Kieran and Jasmine. Two years ago Tricia and Tanya helped me through a nasty illness where there was doubt about my survival. Two years on I am fit and well again and have a very healthy lifestyle.

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.

Derby Diary

On Wed 20th Apr at 7.30pm - 3WOTM

Just our regular event at the Standing Order on Irongate from 7.30pm until late on Wednesday 20th. Find us on an ever-expanding table in the rear section of the pub. You’re welcome to come along for a meal or just a drink. Both good value at Wetherspoon prices and even cheaper if you have a Cathedral Quarter card!

Maxine Bates

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

photo of Richard Allen

Hertfordshire Happenings

On Thu 2nd Apr at 8:00pm - FThOTM

We are now at the Three Magnets, Leys Avenue, Letchworth. Thursday nights are curry nights but other food (standard Wetherspoons' fare) is available as well. Leys Avenue is the main shopping street in Letchworth and is a few minutes' walk from the station (Kings Cross to Cambridge line). Call me for more details and encouragement.

On Fri 24th Apr at 8:00pm - LFOTM

Last Friday is at our usual venue of the Cowper Arms, Digswell. The pub is next to Welwyn North station and is served by stopping trains from Kings Cross to Peterborough and Cambridge. Good food, beer and conversation guaranteed! Please call me for more details and encouragement.

Richard Allen

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

photo of Christine Howells

Lively Lincs

On Sat 9th Apr at 12:05pm - Pub discussion

Normal service will be resumed this month with both of our usual Lincoln meetings. Firstly, on Sat 9 April 12.05, our pub discussion will be at our usual venue, 'Adam and Eve' on Lindum Hill, probably in the alcove, look for MBlem. This month's topic: 'To what extent should children be guided in their view of the world?' Feel free to join us to add your pennyworth, food available to fuel the grey cells.

On Tue 19th Apr at 7:00pm - Eating meeting

More food available at our midweek eating meeting on Tues 19 April 7pm. For a more cost conscious meal we're returning to the Pizzahut, the one on Nettleham Road, near Fire Station and Waitrose. All welcome but please book with me by 14th if possible, thanks.

Christine Howells

Contact [Email] for details

photo of Val Hinkins

Mid Bucks

On Sat 2nd Apr at 2:30pm - Theatre

On Saturday 2nd April Mark Sandford is hosting a trip to the Wycombe Swan to see a revival of Terence Rattigan’s play “Flare Path”. Set in 1942 and based on his wartime experiences as a tailgunner, the play paints a picture of life in Britain including the stresses and strains endured by the families of those engaged in active service. Please buy your own tickets for the 2:30pm performance from the theatre or on-line at Prices from £28 - £17.50. Ring Mark on [Phone Number] or e-mail him at [Email] to let him know you are coming. We may go for an informal meal in High Wycombe afterwards.

On Fri 8th Apr at 10:30am - Morning coffee

Meet me from 10:30am onwards on Friday 8th April for a morning of informal conversation and coffee. This month we are going to Costa at 31 High Street, Chesham, HP5 1BW. If you can, please let me know in advance that you are coming so I can choose a suitable table. You will still be welcome if you just turn up on the day.à6¤o

Advance notice for Mid Bucks On Thursday May 19th Mark Steel asks “Who Do You Think I Am?” at the Old Town Hall, High Wycombe. After appearances on Have I Got News for You, the News Quiz, QI and Room 101, Mark Steel is a well-known performer. He also writes for the Independent.

“Who Do You Think I Am?” tells the story of his search for his own origins – a surprising and enthralling history. First presented at the Edinburgh Festival in 2015 The Scotsman’s review described it as frank, dryly funny and moving, but subtly thought-provoking too. Please note there is a minimum age limit of 14 years. Tickets (£16.00) and further information from Doors open at 7:30pm and the show starts at 8:00pm. Please buy your own ticket, but let me know you are coming so that we can meet up beforehand. For further details or encouragement contact me.

Val Hinkins

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

photo of Jo Sidebottom

Mensans in MK & Bedford

On Tue 5th Apr at 7.30pm - Eating meeting

We start April with a Greek meal in Bedford, at the Athena Palace in Midland Road. We’ve eaten there several times and always found it very good. I will reserve a table for 7.30pm on Tuesday 5th, so please let me know by Sunday 3rd if you plan to come along – call me or email me for directions and/or encouragement.

On Mon 18th Apr at 8.30pm - 3WOTM & Quiz

Our monthly visit to the Barge in Woolstone for the quiz is on Monday 18th. Meet from 8.30 - the quiz starts at 9pm and costs £1 per person. Look out for the Mblem on a table. Please let me know beforehand if you’re coming so I can bag a large enough table.

On Sun 24th Apr at 10:00am - Sunday breakfast

Sunday breakfast will be on 24th at 10am 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.

We hope to see as many of you as possible at one or other of our events in March. 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

More or Leicester

For April, we’re delivering a veritable Smörgåsbord of cerebral and spiritual expansion opportunities; a chance to get out your theatre togs and stick a Thai on maybe...

On Tue 12th Apr at 7:30pm - Theatre

We start off with some culture as Joyce Moore invites you to the Concordia Theatre in Hinckley for a unique presentation of Donizetti’s popular comic opera L'elisir d'amore (The Elixir of Love). This is the “seaside version”, sung in English as a simple love-struck bumpkin sets out to win the heart of the aloof and feisty girl of his dreams aided by a ‘magic’ potion and a doctor of dubious credentials. Donizetti’s light-hearted comedy bubbles with effervescent arias and charm as the elixir causes as many problems as it solves. It runs from 8-16 April, but you’ll need to book with Joyce ([Phone Number] or [Email]) by April 4th at the very latest. Tickets £12 (£11 for concessions and a 10% discount for groups of 10 or more)

On Tue 26th Apr at 7:30pm - Eating meeting

After that, if you’re not already Thai’d up for the evening, why not join Pen Penny in Ashby on 26th April at 7:30 for what is described as a “Fantastic little find” on Tripadvisor at the 'Taste of Thai' restaurant on Market Street ( Please book with Pen ([Phone Number] or [Email]) by the 22nd at the very latest.

On Thu 28th Apr at 8:00pm - 4ThOTM

We end the month with yet more culture as we head off back to the pub (Look.... yeast IS a culture, right?). You know the score... The Cradock... fourth Thursday.... 8:00pm....

Paul Coulson

photo of Maxine Bates

Notts News

On Tue 5th Apr at 8.00pm - 5OTM

Lots happening this month! As usual we have our get together at the Vat & Fiddle pub on Queensbridge Road (near Nottingham railway station) from 8.00pm on Tuesday 5th. Pop in briefly or stay all evening for alcoholic or nonalcoholic drinks and a chat.

On Thu 14th Apr at 7.30pm - Natter & nosh

On Thursday 14th we’re back at the Beekeeper (Hungry Horse pub/restaurant) on Meadow Lane in Beeston for our “natter & nosh” event. Come along any time from 7.30pm until late for a drink/meal/snack and a variety of conversation. This is a popular event and new faces are always welcome.

On Fri 15th Apr at 6.00pm - Greyhound racing

We return to Nottingham Greyhound Stadium in Colwick on Friday 15th to take part in their charity tournament. Gates open 6.00pm, first race at 6.28pm and last race finished by 10.30pm. Come and cheer on our allocated dog and help raise money for Cancer Research UK. Tickets have been donated by the stadium and I’m selling them for £3 with that money going to charity. Usual admission and race card is £6 so a bargain night out! If you’ve not been before, why not give it a try? You can arrive/leave any time to suit yourself. If you’re interested in eating at the venue there is a cafeteria downstairs in the bar on a pay-as-you-go basis or a three course meal in their upstairs restaurant available for a reduced price of £16 if booked and paid in advance quoting your ticket number. All welcome and accompanied under 18s are admitted free of charge. Contact me to purchase tickets in advance.

On Mon 25th Apr at 8.00pm - Theatre - Rocky Horror Show

We have a block booking near the front of the stalls at the Theatre Royal for the 8.00pm performance of the Rocky Horror Show on Monday 25th. At the time of writing all tickets had been sold but please contact me to check availability in case there are any cancellations. Don’t dream it, be it!

Ciao for now!

Maxine Bates

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

20 Questions (No. 175)

The literary answers from February were Don Quixote, Robinson Crusoe, Joseph, 1984, John Steinbeck, Goldie Hawn, Benjamin Disraeli, John-Boy, 25th January, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Phileas Fogg, John Buchan, Daniel Defoe, Moby-Dick, Miss Jean Brodie, Chess, Nevil Shute, Science Fiction and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Lots of correct entries this time but Nigel Bryant of Bedford was picked ‘out of the hat’ and wins the £10 book token.

As summer approaches this month we have a gardening themed quiz. Send your answers to arrive by 20th April to ‘20 Questions (No. 175)’, [Address] or [Email] but remember to include your name and address in case you win.

1. Which term describes trees that shed their leaves in autumn?

2. What is the name of the tool used for pruning?

3. The Chilean pine is more commonly known as what?

4. What is the name given to the female reproductive organ of a plant?

5. Which is the tallest species of tree on earth?

6. The leaves of the laburnham tree are which colour?

7. What is the most common colour of the cornflower?

8. Which flower is sacred to Buddhists?

9. Hybrid tea and floribunda are types of what?

10. What is the real name of the gardener Monty Don?

11. Which liquid is produced by a flower to attract insects?

12. What is the world’s largest flower?

13. Which plant is the emblem of Scotland?

14. What was the first name of landscape gardener Capability Brown?

15. What is the popular name for the antirrhinum?

16. Which famous golf course features holes named after flowering shrubs?

17. The trimming of bushes and shrubs into ornamental shapes is known as what?

18. Which novelist and gardener is associated with the village of Sissinghurst in Kent?

19. What is the name of the pointed implement used to plant seeds and bulbs?

20. The tulip originated in which country?