Did you go to the Panto and Party event? You can find out how it went below. Oh, yes you can!

Regional News

Many thanks to those who attended our “Panto & Party” event in Hertfordshire in January. If you weren’t there then Rowena has kindly written a review so you can see what you missed. An excellent afternoon was enjoyed by all ages. Oh yes it was!

Our next regional event will be happening at the other end of our region in Nottinghamshire on Saturday 7th March. Find full details of our barn dance in this issue of Empress or at www.eastmidsmensa.org.uk - but be quick as bookings close on 4th March. At the time of writing tickets are selling well to members in the East Midlands and beyond. Why not come and do-si-do with us!? Or simply enjoy the supper and some socialising?

It’s with sadness I have to announce that Rosie has resigned as Empress Editor. Purely because she has been editing for a decade now and feels it’s time for a change. A huge thank you for all the time and effort you’ve devoted to creating some excellent issues of Empress over the years, Rosie. You will be missed. So we are looking for a third Editor to join Lucy and Nick putting together this newsletter for four months each year. A computer and email is a necessity but training will be given and help is always available. Please contact me on [Phone Number] or [Email] for an informal chat and for more information if interested in joining the team.

Maxine Bates

Regional Officer


It feels like winter is never going to end as a write this in January but looking at all of the events planned for March and beyond is a great reminder that spring will be here in no time at all!

In this edition you’ll find details of the Barn Dance, a review of the Panto & Party, information about the Lakes Weekend planned for November and all of the usual events and get-togethers. March is going to be a packed month!

Lastly, I’d like to thank Rosie for all her help in getting me up to speed as a new editor for Empress, Rosie – you’ve been a fantastic help and (very) patient source of great advice. I wish you luck in the future, stay in touch!

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 13th Mar at 10:30am - Coffee morning

Meet me from 10:30am onwards for a morning of informal conversation and coffee. This month we are returning to the café at Chenies Garden Centre near Little Chalfont, WD3 6EN. Free parking. Delicious cake! A good range of plants, garden tools, garden furniture, gifts and food is also available for sale in the shop. See http://www.vanhage.co.uk/garden-centres/chenies/ for further information and an idea of the goods and services on offer. The café can get very busy, so if you know in advance you are coming please contact me so I can assemble enough chairs. You will still be welcome if you just turn up on the day.

On Sun 15th Mar at 2:00pm - Hands-on Science

As part of British Science Week the museum in High Wycombe is running a Hands-on Science afternoon from 2:00pm - 4:30pm. Designed for the curious and inquisitive of all ages, it promises a lively mix of scientific fun and activities. The museum is located close to the centre of town, on Priory Avenue, HP13 6PX. Unfortunately I can’t attend myself, so Mark has very kindly volunteered to host this event. Please let him know you are coming on [Phone Number] or by e-mail at [Email]. If there is sufficient interest the group will also have an informal meal in town afterwards.

Val Hinkins

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

photo of Christine Howells

Lively Lincs

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

Our pub discussion this month, 12:00pm-2:00pm concerns; 'What qualities should we expect of Ministers and MPs? We've talked before about what it is reasonable for society to want of public figures, but political leaders are a special case because they have the power to alter our lives. When we've had enough of politics, the conversation will turn to other topics of interest. Tempted to join us? Go on, we're a nice lot and there are enough chairs, look for the Mblem. Contact me for further details, encouragement etc.

On Thu 26th Mar at 7:00pm - Eating meeting

For our midweek evening eating meeting this month, we're returning to the Bowl Full Tapas bar at the far end of West Street at 7:00pm. All welcome, but do please book with me by 21st March.

Christine Howells

Contact [Email] for details

photo of Bob Ford

Luton Leisure

On Tue 3rd Mar at 7:30pm - FTuOTM

7:30pm at the 'Brache' Beefeater, Osborne Road, opposite the Vauxhall Design Building. There is parking on site. Come along for a drink and a available at the bar or in the restaurant from the same menu. New faces will be welcome to join our group.

Bob Ford

Contact [Email] or [Mobile Number] for details

photo of Jo Sidebottom

Mensans in MK & Bedford

On Sun 1st Mar at 10:00am - Sunday breakfast

Sunday breakfast will be 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 Mon 16th Mar at 8:30pm - Quiz

David is kindly hosting the quiz at The Barge in Woolstone as we are not available that day. Meet from 8:30pm - the quiz starts at 9:00pm and costs £1 per person. Look out for the Mblem. Please let David know if you plan to come so he can bag a large enough table - [Email], [Phone Number], [Phone Number].

On Sat 28th Mar at 3:00pm - T@3

We end March with a welcome return to T@3 at Dobbie’s Garden Centre in Fenny Stratford. Look for us in the restaurant, probably in the conservatory area at the back, from 3:00pm. There should be lots of spring flowers around, so plenty to look at. 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 list for meeting reminders and last-minute changes, so if you would like to be added, please let me know. We hope to see as many of you as possible at one of our events. You’re welcome to bring a guest, 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

photo of Maxine Bates

Notts News

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

As usual we’ll be at the Vat & Fiddle pub on Queensbridge Road (near Nottingham railway station) from 8:00pm. We’re usually on the first table inside the Goldings Room to the left of the bar but a yellow Mblem will be on display. Do join us!

Our regional event takes place in the county on Saturday 7th and will be a barn dance at Greasley Parish Hall which is easily accessible from M1 J26. See elsewhere in this newsletter for full details.

On Sun 8th Mar at 12:00pm - Tour of Wollaton Hall

If you're still in the area on Sunday 8th then Iris is organising a tour of Wollaton Hall. Meet at the front steps at 11:00am in order to buy tickets (£5) for their first tour at 12:00pm. An idea of numbers would be useful so please contact Iris on [Email] to express interest. Following this there will be a 4.5 mile circular walk with a tea stop at the University Lakeside Cafe. You are welcome to join the tour and/or the walk but please let either myself or Iris know.

On Thu 12th Mar at 7:30pm - Natter & nosh

We return to the Beekeeper pub/restaurant from 7:30pm where you can join us for a meal or just a drink. If dining then I have some 25% discount vouchers so please see me before ordering! Find our growing group on the first table beyond the food order point at the end of the bar.

On Tue 31st Mar at 7:30pm - Eating meeting

This month our “eating meeting” goes on location to Coalville and will be an Italian meal hosted by Paul at 7:30pm. Please see the Leicester section for further details. Recommendations for restaurants within Nottinghamshire are always welcome.

Ciao for now!

Maxine Bates

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

Derby Diary

On Wed 18th Mar at 7:30pm - 3WOTM

You have a choice of eating, drinking or walking this month. From 7:30pm, we’re at the Standing Order in the city centre for our “3rd Wednesday” get together. Find us in the rear section of the pub with a yellow Mblem on display. New faces always welcome to pop in for a quick drink or stay all evening for food too.

In January a reporter from the Derby Telegraph wrote an article including reference to Mensa members. It was totally made up so the Mensa office responded and invited him to the Standing Order to meet ‘real’ members. He actually turned up and stayed the whole evening chatting to us all. We're now interested to see what he's going to write about us! Thank you to everyone who turned out in the snow to make it such a pleasant evening.

On Sun 22nd Mar at 11:00am - Walk

Spring has sprung so let’s go for a walk. Meet at the free canal side car park in Whatstandwell (on B5035 just up the road from the Family Tree cafe) ready to walk off at 11:00am. The circular route is approximately 4 miles and includes woodland, crossing the tracks of the National Tramway Museum and a small ascent to Crich Stand with wonderful views across the Derbyshire countryside. We’ve done this pleasant walk previously with a lunch stop at the Cliff Inn near the end. In March we could have glorious sunshine or deep snow. If there’s any doubt about the weather please contact me to check the walk is still going ahead. Suggestions for other routes we can do over the summer months are welcome.

Maxine Bates

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

More or Leicester

On Thu 26th Mar at 8:00pm - 4ThOTM

We’re starting off March with our Regional Barn Dance event (see elsewhere on this page), so our first Leicester get together will be our regular fourth-Thursday meeting at The Craddock at 8:00pm. For no good reason, we’ll be celebrating Spock’s birthday (well, actor Leonard Nimoy’s anyway), so..... How many Vulcans does it take to change a light bulb? Approximately 1.0000000000000000000000!!

On Tue 31st Mar at 7:30pm - Eating meeting

Following on from that, we’re having a joint Leicester/Nottingham/Derby meal at La Torre on High Street in Coalville. This restaurant was specially selected by going to the Tripadvisor website, and finding the #1 ranked restaurant in the town! There’s more information on their website at www.latorrecoalville.co.uk, but the menus look good to me! I obviously need to book quite early for this, so please can you let me know by Friday 20th March at the very latest if you plan to come along?

Paul Coulson

photo of Richard Allen

Hertfordshire Happenings

On Thu 5th Mar at 8:15pm - FThOTM

As ever, we're at the Millstream, Cambridge Road, Hitchin. 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 Sat 7th Mar at 5:00pm - Six Nations Cheese and Wine

Rowena and Mark are hosting a ‘Six Nations Cheese and Wine evening in Welwyn from 5:00pm. The six nations tournament is in full flow at the moment, but there are no matches this weekend, so we thought we'd have a six nations inspired event instead. The theme is ‘cheese and wine’, but limit your offerings to things from the six nations involved. France is easy when it comes to cheese and wine, but surely we can be a bit more adventurous than that... Abergavenny, Brodick Blue, Cashel, Dolcelatte, Exmoor Blue etc. There's the rest of the alphabet to pick from! Where will your wine be from? We'll provide the craic and the crackers. Contact us on rowenamlove@gmail.com or [Phone Number].

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

Come and mark (almost) the end of March. As always, we're at the Cowper Arms, Digswell, which is by Welwyn North railway station, whioch 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
  • 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 www.maruba-events.com for full details or contact organiser Maxine on [Phone Number]

East Midlands Mensa invite you to their Barn Dance

Panto & Party Review

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. After all, it’s not every day you see a bunch of Mensans in the Bluebell Woods waiting for Little Red Riding Hood. Such was the case in January, though, courtesy of East Midlands Regional Officer Maxine Bates, who had laid on a special family-friendly event. The exclusive pantomime, buffet and party games extravaganza was attended by members and their guests from neighbouring regions, not just her own and ages ranged from two to ninety-two.

In a matter of minutes, the cast of Chaplins Pantos created a mini-theatre in a Hertfordshire village hall, complete with adjustable scenery, lights and sound. Their colourful costumes and excellent script ensured that everyone had fun – oh yes they did!

Like any panto, audience participation was a must, but with a quality production like this one, it was no chore and everyone was soon singing, booing and shouting ‘behind you!’ with gusto. “The three little girls at the front were great,” said one of the actresses afterwards. “They were so keen it was all I could do not to laugh.”

The 75 minute performance passed in a flash and then it was on to the buffet, which allowed for the members to mingle. Party food scoffed, the kids soon devised their own entertainment for a while, before the party games proper.

Manners maketh the Mensan, and nowhere was this more obvious than in the party games. Competition in the musical bumps was fierce, yet the winning child graciously let one of the younger ones have the prize. In pass the parcel, if they’d already had a chance at opening it, the youngsters politely passed it on to some of the others. It was lovely to see the adults joining in that particular game, but we’ll gloss over how well they passed on the parcel because otherwise we might have to mention the word ‘cheating’.

A big thank you is due to Maxine for all her hard work in arranging this very special family-friendly event enjoyed by young and old alike. “Why can’t we have a panto every day,” asked Kerensa Lawrence, one of the younger members there. When the event is as good as today’s was, we rather wish we could, too.

Rowena Love

20 Questions (No. 162)

Thanks to Roger Plant of Nottingham, Alex Foster of Derby, D W Dell of Leighton Buzzard, Pamela Covey of Woburn, Roger Lord of Aylesbury, Chris Impey of Tring, Helene Parry of Brentford, Lynn Faulkner of Nottingham, Marianne Croll of Derby and Patrick Cavanagh of Ireland for entering our January competition. The answers were water, group O, laughing gas, Cambridge, radioactivity, Robert Hooke, chicken, tangent, chlorine, periodic table, kidneys, magpie, Saturn, blood circulation, isotopes, metamorphic, kneecap, electron, ohms and 3rd. Alex wins the £10 book token.

This month’s competition is set by Mark Sloan. Simply name the film from these tag lines. Answers should be received by 20th March either by email to [Email] or by post to ‘20 Questions (No. 162)’, [Address]. Remember to include your name and address in case you win!

1. An epic of miniature proportions

2. A lot can happen in the middle of nowhere.

3. Size does matter.

4. Don’t go in the water.

5. An adventure 65 million years in the making.

6. Reality is a thing of the past.

7. Garbo laughs!

8. Twelve is the new eleven.

9. Every dream has a price.

10. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

11. He loved the American dream. With a vengeance.

12. A comedy of trial and error.

13. A glove story.

14. The story of a man who was too proud to run.

15. These women are serious about their taste in men.

16. There is no gene for the human spirit.

17. Mischief. Mayhem. Soap.

18. Laugh...or I’ll blow your lips off!

19. One dream. Four Jamaicans. Twenty below zero.

20. ...and remember, the next scream you hear may be your own!