4th July 2009

Learning the art of cartooning
Organisers Jo and Maxine with Matthew Collins
Some of the buffet (with decor supplied by Maruba Events!)
Quiz time

Around 40 Mensans gathered at the Holiday Inn M1 J18 on Saturday 4th July to celebrate all things American. The afternoon began with an icebreaker game to get everyone mingling with questions relating to both America and the East Midlands. There was also opportunity to complete a feedback questionnaire to help us see how we can improve your Mensa membership and which type of social events appeal.

Our first guest speaker was Elaine Yates, a member of Americana SIG but attending her very first Mensa event. We were treated to an informative and well-presented slide show on Native American history and culture and Elaine brought along some items such as medicine bags, musical instruments, dream catchers and dolls for us to see. After a short break Mensan illustrator Peter Bellingham taught us the art of cartooning and within an hour we managed to draw - albeit with varying degrees of competence! - Kenny from South Park, Charlie Brown, Bart and Homer Simpson, Mickey Mouse, Fred Flintstone and Stewie Griffin. We also learned some of the rules devised to enable several cartoonists to draw the same character.

Travel author and former TV Travel Show presenter Matthew Collins then gave us an entertaining talk about his 6,500 mile, three month trip across America in a motorhome with his two young sons which was the basis for his book "Across America With The Boys". Afterwards Matthew answered questions about his thoughts on America and did a book signing session.

There was time to make more friends whilst our evening buffet was set up. Then we enjoyed dishes from Central and North America such as nachos, fajitas, quesadillas, hot dogs, burgers, banoffee pie and chocolate brownies. There was plenty of food to allow for more than one trip to the buffet table. Whilst dinner digested an American themed quiz was distributed, teams were formed and brains put into gear. Congratulations to the winners Nancy, Clarissa, Freda, Lynn, Robert and Barbara who all went home with a small prize. The socialising continued to background music until after 10 pm although I hear those staying overnight at the hotel chatted until gone midnight.

Thanks to my co-organiser Jo Sidebottom, our three guest speakers, everyone who came along, and especially the first-timers and the three members who flew over from Ireland and the USA to join the fun.

Maxine Bates