Mensa lunch at Little Rose Tearoom. Photo taken in Louth during lunch at our recent Lunch & Town Walk meeting, which was very well attended.

Regional News

A jam-packed issue this month, but I do need to thank everyone who has organised or attended one of our social events this year as well as all those who have compiled or entered one of our quizzes or written a member profile for Empress. Not forgetting all the officers of East Midlands Mensa for their time and effort. My term as Regional Officer is up for renewal and whilst I’m happy to remain in the role it is open to other members to step forward. Please contact John Stevenage at the Mensa office for further information on what is involved and to express interest. It is no longer an elected position and the Mensa Board appoints that role.

In 2020 I would like to see more activities in addition to the popular eating and drinking events. Discussion has already started on the East Midlands Mensa Facebook group and I’m looking to arrange a visit to the new interactive visitor attraction at Silverstone as well as some talks by Mensa members. If you can recommend any behind the scenes tours or might be prepared to give a talk/demonstration/workshop on your specialist subject (expenses paid) I would love you to get in touch. I’m on [Phone Number] or [Email]

Finally as Yahoo email groups will cease to operate in December 2019 and our East Midlands Mensa one is infrequently used nowadays we will not be seeking to find an alternative, but invite you to join our Facebook group that now has 200+ members and is a good way for us to communicate.

Don’t forget our social events are always listed in Mensa Magazine, Empress, main Mensa web site and East Midlands Mensa web site.

The office occasionally send emails with advance notification of one-off events so it’s worth letting them have your email address if you have not already done so. Email addresses are not used for any other purpose and are not passed to third parties.

I wish you all an enjoyable festive season and a happy and healthy 2020.

Maxine Bates

Regional Officer


Welcome to the December Edition of Empress. This is my last one for now. Mark is back next month. Remember to book your Christmas meal in advance!!!

Empress is becoming so packed up with events and Mensans’ reviews that the online version is going to be an extended one. Log into to take full advantage of the colour edition, where you can see all the photos and articles.

Enjoy the reading!

Maria Falces

Member’s profile - Emily Shovlar

New Board member – Communications Officer

I’m Emily. I’ve recently moved to Hertford, after seven years in London, but I grew up in Lincolnshire so the East Midlands region is very familiar ground.
I joined Mensa aged 17 when my school encouraged a small group of pupils to take the test. My parents were members (and still are), and for a 17-year-old it’s deeply uncool to join a group your parents are in, so I didn’t attend any events for a while. I came back to Mensa after finishing university and finding that many of my friends were returning to the cities – and countries – they’d left to study in London. My social circle needed a bit of new life, so I decided to give Mensa a go.
I’m now a regular at Mensa events, particularly Young Mensa. There are regular under-35 meetings in London, and I’ve also joined MY-SIG, the international Mensa Youth SIG. This group organises summer and New Year camps for hundreds of young Mensans every year; the summer camp this year saw 250 of us gather in Barcelona, and we’ll soon be descending on Hungary for a 200-strong Mensa New Year party.
Earlier this year I decided to run for the British Mensa Board, and now hold the post of Communications Officer. I’m really keen to improve the way we communicate to members – there’s a lot of room for us to develop more nuanced, effective and meaningful communication.
I’d like to make sure that every Mensa member can easily access the information they want, in the ways they want.
In daily life I manage sustainable transport projects for a group of London boroughs. I’m keen on sustainability and urban development, and my job encompasses everything from infrastructure and freight logistics to electric vehicles, cycling, walking and new transport technology.
In my free time, I can usually be found curled up with a book or hiking through the countryside. Autumn is my favourite time of year, so I’m taking time to enjoy the crisp sunshine and falling leaves!
If you’d like to get in touch, please do: [Email].

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 18th Dec at 7:30pm - 3WOTM

Join us at a group of tables in the rear section (beyond the bar) of the Standing Order (Wetherspoon) pub on Iron Gate in the centre of Derby. Look for the yellow Mblem. Drop in briefly or stay all evening for food and/or drink and chat. Christmas menu available. New faces especially welcome. Contact Susan on [Phone Number] or [Email] for directions and encouragement

Susan Graves

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

photo of Steve Thomas

Hertfordshire Happenings

On Thu 5th Dec at 8:00pm - FThOTM

Once again, we are 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 (Kings Cross to Cambridge line). Call me on [Phone Number], or email [Email] for further details and encouragement.

On Sat 7th Dec at 7:30pm - Theatre Group

A Christmas Concert with Tenors Unlimited at the Broadway Cinema. Tickets £21 or £18 concessions. If interested, please contact me on [Phone Number], [Phone Number] or email [Email].

On Sat 14th Dec at 12:00pm - Eat & Greet

The final Eat & Greet event of 2019 takes place at the Broadway Art Gallery Café. This is above the Three Magnets pub in Leys Avenue and is accessible by lift or stairs from The Arcade. We are hoping to welcome those who don’t often attend meetings. If interested, please call or send me a text on [Phone Number], or email [Email] to confirm.

On Fri 27th Dec at 8:00pm - LFOTM

As ever, we are 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] for more details and a spot of encouragement to come and join us.

On Tue 31st Dec at 7:30pm - Viennese Style New Year’s Eve concert

Yes, it's that time of year again - the annual trip to see out the old year at the Barbican! Join us for an evening of delightful music and a great atmosphere! We meet at the Sir John Oldcastle near Farringdon station (Wetherspoon's) at 5.30 for drinks and a meal and then head across to the Barbican for the concert. Further details from Richard on [Phone Number].

Steve Thomas

Contact [Email] or [Mobile Number] for details

photo of Haydn Starkie

In Leicestershire

On Mon 16th Dec at 7:00pm - Chinese Meal

This year we will have a meal at the Shanghai Moon Chinese Restaurant, High Street, Leicester. The restaurant has always served excellent food when I eaten there before and is located opposite Shires Lane and the Highcross Centre. If you would like to come please let me know by 2nd December. You are welcome to bring a friend/partner. You can contact me on [Phone Number] or by email at [Email].

Haydn Starkie

Contact [Email] or [Mobile Number] for details

photo of Jacquie Harrison

Lively Lincs

On Fri 6th Dec at 12:30pm - Pub lunch

The Old Angel Inn, 2 Wragby Road, Bardney, LN3 5XE, is our venue for an informal lunch. Large village pub, good food, car park. If you live in Lincoln, this is a chance to escape the Christmas Market chaos for a while! Weather permitting, we might go for a short walk nearby first - phone to check. Please contact Jacquie in advance, on [Phone Number] or [Email] .

On Sat 14th Dec at 12:00pm - Pub discussion

Adam & Eve Tavern, 25 Lindum Road, LN2 1RT (opposite Pottergate arch). Second Saturday meeting, this month talking about “The best (or worst) present I have ever received” (not confined to Christmas presents). Pub food, decent ales, hot drinks, car park. All welcome. Find us in one of the side areas, Magazine on the table, or contact Jacquie for some encouragement on [Phone Number] or [Email] .

Jacquie Harrison

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

photo of Val Hinkins

Mid Bucks

On Mon 9th Dec at 8:00pm - Indoor Games

Join Dave and Alison at their home in Flackwell Heath, near High Wycombe, for a relaxed evening of indoor board games. All members and friends welcome. Space is limited, so please contact Dave for directions and to discuss what games you would like to play on [Phone Number] or by e-mail at [Email]

On Sun 15th Dec at 12:00pm - Pre-Christmas Thai meal

Join me for a pre-Christmas Sunday lunch at Eat Thai, 14-15 Easton Street, High Wycombe, HP11 1NT. Find more details of the restaurant at I will need to book, so please contact Val on [Phone Number] or [Email] by Wednesday 4th December to let me know you are coming.

On Sun 15th Dec at 2:30pm - Christmas Craft Market

After lunch we will walk up to Wycombe Museum for their Christmas Craft Market. Musical entertainment and real life reindeer are promised as well as a selection of craft stalls. Entry charge not yet confirmed. If you are not coming to the meal first, please contact Val on [Phone Number] or [Email] so that we can arrange to meet.

On Fri 20th Dec at 10:30am - Coffee & Chat

Join me at Jungs on the Broadway in Beaconsfield, HP9 2PD for relaxed conversation, cake and coffee. See for location and menu. No need to book, but if you want me to look out for you, let me know you are coming 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 Wed 4th Dec at 7:00pm - Pre-Christmas meal

We're going out for dinner but haven't yet decided where. Contact me by 1st December to check the venue and let me know if you'd like to come - [Email], or [Phone Number] / [Phone Number].

On Sun 29th Dec at 10:00am - Breakfast

Join Christine and others at Brown's on Midsummer Boulevard from 10am for a full breakfast, a snack, or just a drink. Contact [Email] for directions/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 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

On Sun 8th Dec at 10:30am - Brunch

It's breakfast as usual at the Zapato Lounge, Welsh House, 2 Newland Walk NN1 2EB off Market Square in the town centre. We try to occupy one of the window seats either side of the entrance. After Pete's quiz, we'll have a new competition involving advertising slogans with a valuable prize for the winner! Contact Marianne on [Phone Number] or email: [Email] for help and encouragement.

On Sat 14th Dec at 10:30am - Pub Walk

Lovely mixed Hemplow Hills walk through parkland, bridle ways, woods and canal. Meet at ‘The Wharf Inn’, Welford. NN6 6HW (644 807) 10km (3 hrs) Drink afterwards at 1:30pm, at ‘The Wharf’. For help or encouragement [Phone Number][Email]

photo of Maxine Bates

Notts News

On Tue 3rd Dec at 7:00pm - Cinema

A night out at Showcase Cinema, Redfield Way, Lenton, NG7 2UW. Please contact Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email] beforehand so we can decide film and adjust meeting time if necessary. Option of dinner first if anyone interested. Plenty of free parking.

On Thu 5th Dec at 8:00pm - 5OTM

Join us for a drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) and a natter at the Vat & Fiddle pub on Queensbridge Road. Near Nottingham railway station, tram and bus stops and free parking right outside. Look for yellow Mblem on table, possibly in main bar this month. New and old faces all welcome. Directions/encouragement from Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email] if needed.

On Thu 12th Dec at 7:30pm - Christmas Meal

The Nottingham Mensa Christmas meal at The Cadland in Chilwell. 2 courses for £15.99 or 3 courses for £18.49. Please contact Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email] for menu choices and to check availability. £5 deposit required.

On Tue 17th Dec at 7:00pm - Christmas Meal

The Newark group are holding their Christmas meal at the Fox & Crown on Appletongate. £16.95 for 2 courses or £19.95 for 3 courses. Menu at Reserve your place with Pete on [Phone Number] or [Email]. £10 deposit and menu choices needed in advance. All welcome!

Ciao for now!

Maxine Bates

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

Sheep racing event – by Maxine Bates

On Saturday 5th October the regular '5OTM' event in Nottingham became a sheep racing night. The Vat & Fiddle pub kindly gave us private use of their visitor centre attached to Castle Rock Brewery for a couple of hours of hilarity.

Guests could purchase 'sheepy money' for £2.50 to participate in the racing. We watched as six battery operated Shauns (from Aardman Animations) wearing racing silks staggered and bleated their way to the finish line.

Joyce from Leicestershire won the prize hamper for being the person with the most 'sheepy money' at the end of the night. A deserved winner as she had travelled the furthest to join in the fun.

The sheep racing raised some money for Cancer Research UK and thanks go to Mark who acted as bookie and Michael who helped set up and set off the sheep, both Mensans who also belong to my fundraising team. In addition we had Simon and his family join us to celebrate his birthday which I found out just in time to arrange a surprise birthday cake.

There was a very good band playing in the adjacent function room that we could hear too - and saved £10 per person admission to that room!

There was also opportunity to pose behind the pumps in the visitor centre bar.

What a nice evening!

Northampton walks review – Woodford

Four members make their way along a narrow track in the countryside

5th October was the date of the last of the Northampton group's organised walks for this year, with six people meeting in the village of Woodford. Heading out of the village the path took us alongside a couple of fields containing a number of very friendly donkeys, horses and ponies, one of which seemed to have escaped from a Thelwell cartoon. This being a bridleway we were passed by several horse riders, one of whom gave us the day's most unusual question: "Have you seen a Golden Retriever?"

The path led us down to the River Nene, where we walked alongside it for a while, finding some ripe blackberries in the hedgerows (don't eat too many, don't want to spoil your appetite).

We also passed the lost Golden Retriever, being led back to Woodford by another dog walker. Around the half-way mark on the outward journey we came to an old railway bridge, now used as part of a footpath, which later research showed to be part of the Northampton-Peterborough line that closed to passengers in 1964.

At this point we left the river as it meandered south, heading straight across the next field to meet up with it again at the village of Denford, crossing by means of four bridges over the numerous courses, the first of which was guarded by some inquisitive cattle. Here, or hereabouts, the Rive Nene undergoes a transformation.

Upstream it's pronounced "Nen" but downstream to the Wash it's the "Neen".

Expect to be chastised if you get it wrong!

As we could see Denford church spire from quite a way away that was intended to be the turning point, but the Cock Inn was reached first and the majority vote was for a refreshment stop. A short while later we headed back, this time following the meander back as far as the railway bridge and then north of the outward path to take in a short stretch through the wood known as Woodford Shrubbery.

Back into Woodford village for lunch at The Dukes. Good food and drink but I doubt that Russell will order the Dog's Dinner again. We were lucky with the weather, being a dry day in amid several wet ones. Amongst the other sights we got to see some herons and red kites; also a Spitfire performing aerobatics.

Ian Sargent

20 Questions (No. 218)

There were nine entries to the Nottingham themed quiz in the October issue. The answers were Notts County, 1189, Sir Peter Mansfield, HP sauce, cycling, Richard Greene, John Player, Houses Of Parliament, 1984, Harrier jump jet, Dr Stewart Adams, West Bridgford, Thomas Hawksley, Bramley, Nottingham Electronic Valve Company, 1284, Raleigh, William Booth, Goose Gate and Eastwood. Congratulations to the winner Judith Meller of Derby.

Many thanks to Pamela Covey for compiling this month’s cryptic offering. The theme is female first names, all of which are edible, either as foodstuffs / drinks or some type of flavouring or spice. Please send your answers to arrive by 10th December (note earlier closing date) to [Address] or [Email] remembering to include your name and address in case you win the £10 book token.

1. A ‘spicy’ lady, once part of a rather successful girl group.

2. Probably best-known to cake-makers, she could be an ‘Align Ace’ when it comes to decorations.

3. A lady who may be crackers, or a real ‘cookie’, but she has a world-famous brand name.

4. No use buttering up this character, as she’s already ‘spoken for’ in a popular TV show.

5. You’d have to be nuts not to think this girl tasty.

6. Definitely fruity, that wouldn’t stop her being a miner’s daughter or even a prime minister’s wife.

7. Worth more than her weight in gold, she’s only needed in small doses.

8. If you collapse or cave in with asthma, she may be medicinally helpful.

9. Always sweet-natured, this girl can never turn bad.

10. She may appear stuffed at parties, or could be swimming in martinis.

11. Unsurprisingly, most people prefer this girl stoned.

12. A ‘smoothie’ similar to no. 4 above, except she’s definitely been branded.

13. Also known as Erica, this girl can be good friends with no. 9 above.

14. This girl’s name should serve as a reminder to put her on your shopping list for the spice rack.

15. Such a regal sounding girl may well appear on many tea tables in the guise of a sandwich.

16. Could be a French girl, perhaps keeping no. 15 company at tea time, and she might be nick-named ‘Shelly’.

17. This girl could well be climbing the walls, but she can still make a fragrant special cup of tea.

18. Is this lady very likely to ‘snap’ when drunk?

19. She may be considered ‘weedy’, but this girl can also be tasty and even help with the menopause.

20. Despite her troublesome red navel, she has been making a herbal comeback in the kitchen.