Welcome to Region 05 – East Midlands

The East Midlands Region lies at the centre of England and has frequently been in the middle of historical events, from major battles in The Wars of the Roses and the Civil War to pioneering work in the field of medicine including the introduction of Ibuprofen and the MRI scanner.There is a huge variety of things to see and do either for pleasure for example walking in Derbyshire or visiting historic buildings and sites all over the Region; or for education such as the Space Centre in Leicester. Visits and activities for AOUG members are organised throughout the year, one of the most popular being lunch in Lincoln, everyone is welcome to join in along with friends and family.

Any suggestions for events are welcome as it is not possible for me to keep abreast of everything happening throughout the Region, I rely on members telling me of anything they are interested in or think may be of interest to others.

Briony Dickinson – Executive Representative 


Previous Events

February 2024 – Brightwater Gardens

On a beautiful February day a group of members and friends met at the Hay Barn at Brightwater Gardens, Saxby before taking a walk around the eight acres of gardens. There was a lovely mix of formal gardens and naturalistic gardens on a woodland walk to the Pindle Pond. 

The snowdrops were almost over but the hellebores were magnificent and the daffodils in bud promised a wonderful display. The formal beds were immaculate and although we searched diligently not a weed was to be found; we did find models of Ratty, Mole and Badger hiding among the trees. 

Briony Dickinson – Executive Representative

October 2023 – Nottingham Contemporary Art 

In October we visited Nottingham to see the display in the  Contemporary Art Gallery. The modern works within the gallery were found to be both confusing and disturbing but they certainly had us talking and discussing what we thought the artist intended us to understand from their work. From the very modern gallery we walked a short distance to St Mary’s Church to see much older works of art in stained glass and a 15h Century work by Franu Bartolmeo, the contrast between the modern and the ancient works provoked much discussion. 

Briony Dickinson – Executive Representative

September 2023 – Newarke Houses Museum 

In September members met in Leicester for a visit to the Newalke Houses Museum. The museum consists of two 16th Century houses, The cHantry House built by William Wystone, a wool merchant and Sheffington House built by Thomas Skeffington who was Sheriff of Leicester. We saw films depicting the history of Leicester and celebrations held over the years. There were several displays relating to a variety of industries including knitwear and footwear, a street scene and a toy gallery including a six foot tall teddy bear. On the first floor were display cabinets with uniforms, regimental colours and items of regimental silver from the Leicestershire regiment. Within the two houses was panelling and fireplaces brought from other properties in Leicestershire as well as stained glass from churches. Outside the gardens were very peaceful and it was difficult to believe we were in the middle of the modern De Montfort University. After lunch we took part in a tour of the magazine Gatehouse. A 15th Century building used to house Roman Catholic recusants in the 16th CEntury and a Parlimentary garrison during the Civil War. During the Napoleonic Wars it was a prison for French captives. There was much interesting gratti from all the different ages.  

Briony Dickinson – Executive Representative

July 2023 – Ecclesbourne Railway 

Members, families and friends assembled to ride a steam engine from Duffield to Wirksworth. After waiting some time for the train to leave, we were told thast there was a problem with the brakes on the steam engine and that we would have to wait for a diesel engine to arrive to pull the train. A few of our party decided they could not wait an inderterminate time and left the train. Those who waited the train  eventually started the journey almost two hours later than expected! At Wirksworth we met up with those who had driven to visit the railway museum there before the return journey by which time the problem of the brakes had been resolved and we enjoyed a steam engine ride.

Briony Dickinson – Executive Representative 

May 2023 – Gibraltar Point

On a beautiful sunny day, we met in the cafe where we wwere given a brief talk explaining the history of the reserve and what we could possibly see and hear during our visit. We began with a walk around ‘The Plantation’, a wooded area full of cow parsley, forget-me-nots and nettles – a haven for insects. There were several bug hotels made from different materials with information boards giving instructions on how to build them. There were two large ponds made from sleepers and numerous small trapdoors on the ground for children to lift to see what small creatures they could find under them. A break for lunch in the cafe, then a stroll through the reserve to the shore watching the birds and listening to the cuckoo. The May blossom and the Spring flowers were beautiful and crossing a small bridge, we saw small crabs in the water below. Our final walk was to a point from where we could look across the fourteen miles of The Wash to the Norfolk coast. 

Briony Dickinson – Executive Representative

April 2023 – Delapre Abbey 

We visited Delapre Abbey in Northampton. Almost nine hundred years ago a small community of nuns built an Abbey of St Mary de la Pre in a quiet meadow, this was one of only two Chuniac nunneries in England. In addition to the daily routine of prayers the nuns ministered to the poor and the sick and provided accommodation for travellers. In 1290 the body of Eleanor of Castile was rested at the Abbey on its final journey to burial in Westminster. King Edward I erected one of the Eleanor crosses at DeLa Pre in memory of his beloved Queen. During the War of the Roses after the Battle of Northampton King Henry VI waas taken to the Abbey to be cared for by the nuns. Henry VIII eventually evicted the nuns and closed the Abbey in 1538. Outside we enjoyed the walled garden and a wider wooded area.    

Briony Dickinson – Executive Representative

January 2023 – Lincoln Lunch 

We were able to return to our traditional timing  of having our Lincoln lunch at the Royal William pub as a New Year. Although the numbers were less than usual, it was really lovely to be able to renew this face-to-face annual event. We caught up on all personal events since our last meeting and then discussed  the forthcoming AGM to be held in Harrogate in Region 07. There was much interest in finding out about what usually happened. Since this was much closer for East Midlands members than last year being up in Scotland, attendees were encouraged to give serious thought to attending.

Ramsey Hertzog – Local Contact 

October 2022 – Zoom Coffee Morning

The final virtual coffee morning of 2022 had the theme ‘Autumn – what I like/dislike’; fairly predictably the weather dominated the discussion. Everyone wished each other a healthy and happy New Year as we looked forward to meeting in 2023.

Briony Dickinson – Executive Representative

September 2022 – Lincoln Lunch 

On a bright day in September, members gathered at the Royal William IV public house on the Lincoln waterfront for a lunch. At last we were able to gather again after this having been  postponed from January. It was always lovely to be able to meet face-to-face and satisfying to see these familiar surroundings after more than two years break due to the pandemic. As usual the food was excellent, as was the company with a good turnout of members and friends. Lively chatter was first about each other had been doing during our time away and then about the AOUG itself. Updates were given on issues relating to the Association explaining that many of the Executive Committee meetings had been via Zoom allowing Officers to keep everything ticking over despite the pandemic situation. The thoughts then turned to future local planning, as a great opportunity to talk about possible activities and visits for 2023. 

Briony Dickinson – Executive Representative / Ramsey Hertzog – Local Contact

August 2022 – Zoom Coffee Morning

The Summer virtual copffee morning involved a discussion on favourite books and films. Consideration was given to how tastes in literature alter as we grow and have different experiences. This resulted in a chat about many different genre including books by Enid Blyton and modern authors such as Dan Brown as well as the classics of the Brontes and Jane Austin.

Briony Dickinson – Executive Representative

July 2022 – Great Central Railway

On a very hot day in July a group visited the Great Central Railway in Loughborough. It was like stepping back in time, with the traditional Ladies Waiting Room alongside the General Waiting Room. There was a small museum with examples of crockery, pocket watches used on the railway.

We were lucky as there were steam trains running on the day we visited so we purchased tickets for a round trip to Leicester North. The sound of a train pulled by a steam engine is unique and as we listened to the gentle rhythm we were treated to views of a reservoir and countryside which could only be admired from train carriage.

It was a small venue for a visit but one that brought back memories of a gentler age for some of our members.

Briony Dickinson – Executive Representative

June 2022 – Walled Garden at Baumber

On one of the hottest days of June a group of members and friends met at the café of this beautiful hidden gem.

The gardens are unlike any that I have visited, although beautifully kept they were tidy and neat without appearing formal and manicured. The main feature is a lake with water lilies where dragonflies could be seen among the reeds, surrounded by semi tropical plants and a beach scene with rowing boat and two colourful beach huts. Moving away from the lake by the rockery onto the lawns and the paths through a border full of white flowering plants to an area set aside for sales of pots and plants, within the wall by the white border was an intriguing door which had a notice  ‘Please close the door’. Being of an inquisitive nature I couldn’t resist having a peek, beyond was an area of mature trees underplanted with woodland plants such as foxgloves.

Throughout the whole of the garden there were many examples of recycling, from empty wine bottles used as a screen over which was growing a grape vine to a table made of two large scrap tyres topped with part of an old cable drum. A huge anchor set into the rockery at the edge of the lake perhaps the most impressive example.

Returning to the café for a sandwich and drink everyone agreed this was a most peaceful, reflective, wonderful place to spend time. Although some members left after lunch others spent the afternoon sitting quietly enjoying the tranquil setting.

Briony Dickinson – Executive Representative