Montage of VE day celedrations
VE Day was not what anyone had planned for the 75th Anniversary, but our Mensans certainly celebrated in style – while socially distancing of course. Thank you to Susan Graves, Joan Cottee (and her fundraising scarecrows), Maxine Bates, Pen Penny and Sally Branston for sending in photos of their celebrations, and to my husband for allowing me to use the pic of him and his VE Day Cake.

Regional News

I’m delighted to welcome Carole onto the East Midlands Mensa team and hope you enjoy reading her first issue of Empress. She joins Maria and Mark as an editor and they will be doing two month stints to share the task. As always, do feel free to send in contributions to whether that is a member profile, article about your own town, job or hobby, or you would like to announce an engagement, marriage, birth, special birthday or anniversary. Call me nosey, but it’s nice to find out what members are up to! If you’ve found yourself with a bit more spare time whilst staying safe at home, volunteers are always welcome within Mensa, so do contact myself if you would like to get more involved. Some roles can be done without leaving home. We are still seeking a Local Officer for NN postcodes. Marianne is doing a great job – when not self-isolating - of keeping things going with a monthly get together in Northampton, but it would be nice to have someone to contact new members, encourage other activities, contribute to Empress and represent the county on the East Midlands Mensa committee.

This volunteer role can take up as much or as little time as you’re able to offer. Please do contact me for further information. There was much interest in getting activity going at our regional event in Northampton a couple of years ago, but for various genuine family and work commitments at that time those people could not step into the role. Perhaps the situation has changed?

We have listed some social events for July, but obviously we’re living in strange times so nobody knows if these will actually be able to take place or not. Hopefully by listing them we will all have something to look forward to when we are finally back to any kind of normality. In the meantime some groups are holding virtual events on Zoom and similar in order to stay in touch. Don’t forget our East Midlands Mensa Facebook group that has welcomed many more members since lockdown began and where we can get to know each other via various discussions.

I’m looking forward to meeting you all in person at some point in the future. I’m on [Phone Number] or maxine@marubaevents. com

Maxine Bates

Regional Officer


Welcome to the July edition of Empress, my first as Editor, and thank you to everyone who sent in their VE Day photos – great social distancing there! During the lockdown, I know lots of people have enjoyed getting creative and it would be great to see what you’ve all been getting up to. Please send in photos of your achievements – whatever it is, whether you’ve been learning a new skill, gardening, crafting or organising cupboards – anything you will look back at the first half of 2020 and say ‘this is what I did while I couldn’t (insert your usual leisure activities here)’. For now, I hope you all stay safe and enjoy the summer.

Carole Pollard

Member Profile

Portrait photo of Liz Smith
I’m Liz Smith and I am married, with a son of 18. I've recently received my 30 year Mensa pin, although I actually joined in 1986. I didn't consider myself very clever, but I was always good at IQ tests, so I took the Mensa test, and surprised myself by passing!
I took early retirement at the end of last year, after a career as an accountant and IT consultant. I was just getting my new life sorted, and had taken on a couple of voluntary roles, when lockdown happened!
My passion is acapella singing, and I sing with of a number of different choruses and quartets - some regularly, and some occasionally, so I am really missing my singing friends. My son is due to be going to university in September, all being well given the current situation! He isn't at all sorry that he won't have to take his 'A' levels, as his mock results and assessments should stand him in good stead for the grades he requires. I am very proud of him, and will miss him terribly. I persuaded him to take the Mensa test last year, and he passed, so we have two Mensans in the family! I haven't been to a Mensa event for many years, but I may eventually get around to coming along to one now that I have a bit more time on my hands.

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 15th Jul at 7:30pm - 3WOTM

Join us for a chat on Zoom. Webcam not essential. Previously we would have been at the Standing Order (Wetherspoon) pub on Iron Gate in the centre of Derby – even if some pubs have reopened its unlikely we will be meeting in person indoors this month. Please contact me to check and 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 2nd Jul 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. 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, given the situation with COVID-19.

On Fri 31st Jul 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 20th Jul at 8:00pm - Pub Social

Join me at the Cradock Arms, 201 Knighton Road, Leicester, LE2 3TT. We usually gather in the lower part towards the rear of the bar. We are a friendly bunch and new faces are always welcome. You are welcome to bring a friend/partner. Indeed the more the merrier. Look out for the magazine or Mblem. For directions or encouragement, please contact me on [Phone Number] or by email at [Email].

On Sat 25th Jul at 7:00pm - Pub Meal

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 18th July. 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 11st Jul at 12:00pm - Pub discussion SSOTM

Covid-19 restrictions: Please check beforehand that this event will be going ahead. Meeting at the Adam & Eve Tavern, 25 Lindum Road, LN2 1NT (opposite Pottergate Arch). This month's topic: "What Currently Trending will look silliest in ten years?”. All welcome. Car park, decent ales, pub food. Look for the Magazine on the table, usually in the alcove or front room. Contact Jacquie on [Phone Number] or [Email]

On Sun 19th Jul at 11:00am - Cancelled - Walk and picnic

This event has been Cancelled

Due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions this meeting has been cancelled.

We plan a pleasant trail walk – can be muddy! - in Snipe Dales Country Park, on the B1195 near Spilsby. Nearest postcode PE23 4JB, OS Map Ref: TF 319 683. Car park, toilets, picnic area. Bring picnic food for afterwards, and rugs or folding chairs. Contact Helen on [Email] or [Phone Number].

Jacquie Harrison

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

photo of Val Hinkins

Mid Bucks

On Sun 5th Jul at 2:00pm - Indoor Games

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 (audio only) 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]

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 Sat 4th Jul at 3:00pm - T@3

Join us at Dobbie’s Garden Centre restaurant in Fenny Stratford, just south of MK, for tea, coffee, cakes and chat. Contact Jo at [Email], or [Phone Number] / [Phone Number] for directions/encouragement.

On Mon 20th Jul 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.

On Sun 26th Jul 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.

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 Sun 5th Jul at 8:00pm - 5OTM

Please contact Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email] to check whether we'll be rounding off the weekend with a drink and chat at the Vat & Fiddle pub on Queensbridge Road near Nottingham railway station and adjacent to Castle Rock Brewery. New faces always welcome whenever normal service resumes!

On Thu 9th Jul at 7:30pm - Natter & Nosh

If we're allowed to socialise again this is one of our most popular events. A meal at The Cadland (an Ember Inn) on High Road in Chilwell. Or join us later for just a drink. Further info from Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email]

On Sun 19th Jul at 1:00pm - Picnic & Walk

If rules permit and the weather is nice we can have a picnic at Wollaton Park (NG8 2AE) followed by a walk around the lake. Please contact Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email] by 18th to check if this event will be happening.

On Tue 21st Jul at 7:00pm - 3TuOTM

Will we be at the Fox & Crown at 4-6 Appleton Gate in Newark this month for food and/or drink and conversation? Contact Pete on [Phone Number] or [Email] to find out!

On Tue 28th Jul at 7:30pm - Eating Meeting

We couldn't visit Gino's Italian restaurant on Church Street in Ruddington (NG11 6HD) in April so will try again. Menu and updates at Please contact Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email] by 24th to reserve your place if restaurants are open.

Ciao for now!

Maxine Bates

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

Dobbies Garden Centre, Milton Keynes

Mensans in MK & Bedford

Our Regular Venue

We’ve been meeting once every three months at Dobbies Garden Centre restaurant for at least ten years, and regularly enjoy good attendances. It’s just south of Milton Keynes, technically in Bletchley/Fenny Stratford, but it’s easy to find on Watling Street not far north of the big roundabout where the new A5 trunk road rejoins the old A5 (Watling Street). There’s plenty of parking even when it’s busy.

The area was once the Roman town and fort of Magiovinium and at the back of the garden centre, amongst the plants and hot tubs, is a small Roman garden that commemorates that fact.

Like most large chain garden centres these days, there is more on offer than plants and garden equipment. Much of the store is devoted to homewares, and there are also Cotton Traders and Edinburgh Woollen Mill concessions, amongst others. There is a small Food Hall, and also a book stall in aid of local charities. Most of us take the opportunity to have a wander around, and at least window shop, either before or after enjoying our tea.

The restaurant is large, which makes it well-suited for Mensa get-togethers, because we are usually assured of getting a table regardless of how many people turn up, in the conservatory area, and the delicious cakes and savouries are worth the occasional wait.

This is by far our longest-running get-together now: over the years we’ve had various regular locations for other events but – maybe because it’s only once a quarter – Dobbie’s has outlasted them all as our T@3 venue. If you haven’t yet joined us there, what are you waiting for?!

Jo Sidebottom

[Phone Number] / [Phone Number]


Socialising in a Lockdown

It’s an overused expression, but these are strange times and it’s a particularly strange time to be writing about regular events that we’ve all taken for granted in the past. At the time of writing it’s not clear what the situation will be for the coming months, and how many of these events will be taking place face to face, but it’s great to see how creative people are being with their socialising.

Walks and Garden Centres will be proving more popular and more likely to go ahead than the usual pub/restaurant visits as places to meet up, but the benefit of a virtual get-together of course is that no travel is involved so the audience can be wider. In Mid Bucks they’re playing online board games, and in Derby their usual gathering is planned as an online Zoom.

If you have arranged any unusual socially distancing or virtual get-togethers with fellow Mensans, or among your families and friends, send the details so we can include them in future editions of Empress. Hopefully the feature will be headed, ‘Look what we did back in the days of Lockdown.’ And are you looking forward to the end of the restrictions, or are you one of those currently suffering from FLEE (Fear of Lockdown Ending Early)?

Let us know by emailing

SIG Profile - Cricket

People on the cricket pitch at Scarborough
Scarborough – Photo by Bill Masters (How’s That! issue 41)

“What is cricket all about?” Cricket is a bat and ball game played between two teams of eleven players. One team tries to hit three pieces of wood with a ball while the other team tried to hit the ball with a wooden bat. A game can last a few hours or a few days. Too simple?

It’s a game that delights in terminology such as googly, off-break, reverse spin, long leg. Too complicated?

But It is a game that provides ample opportunity for discussion and writing, not just about actual matches but about how cricket fits into social history etc.

The Cricket SIG magazine, How’s That!, tries to capture a wide range of cricket-related topics, recently including memories of specific players, how hitting sixes ended up in the Court of Appeal, travelogues from cricket tours overseas, the role of a Chief Executive of a county side and much more. We have a range of contributors including some who might be termed traditionalists through to a teenager who writes enthusiastically about the Indian Premier League and the World Cup.

How’s That! is published three times a year, and if you would like to contribute to a future issue or read a sample copy then please email me at

David Wood

20 Questions (No. 225)

The answers to the numeric quiz in May were forty, 1/100th of a second, the number of seconds on average a person will wait before going to another web page, four, 12, even, 120, 4, 42, 1 with 100 zeros, the number of pickles Heinz made at the time of its creation, 666, 7, obelus, 18, 7, 13, 4, 12 and hahaha is how you pronounce 5 in Thailand. Congratulations to the winner,Nigel Bryant from Bedford. Hopefully you will be able to spend your book token soon.

The NHS has featured significantly in the news this year. But do you know what these three letters stand for within the National Health Service? Send your entries to arrive by 20th July to ‘20 Questions (No. 225)’, [Address] or [Email] for your chance to win. Don’t forget to include your name and address or we won’t know where to send the prize!

1. HCA

2. MIU

3. LFT

4. DSU

5. UTI

6. CQC

7. AKI

8. FBC

9. EOL

10. GOS

11. DNA

12. CXR

13. OOH

14. MRI

15. CCU

16. CAP

17. EUA

18. SOB

19. LTC

20. DNR