READING RETIREMENT CENTRE    (registered charity No. 281830)


(Friends in retirement taking relaxation, exercise and education)


December 2017 and January 2018          Firtree Newsletter             Issue 468


Well folks I guess we can say it now. Christmas!! For us older people it can be a time of very mixed emotions. Thankfully for many it is still a time with the family, time to enjoy the discovery of Christmas of the younger members of the family, time to smile and say thank you the pair of long coms your daughter thought you would need; time to eat and drink too much; time to go to Church, after all it is His birthday!

For others it is a lonely time filled with memories of happier days.

I am sorry in some ways that we stop for nearly four weeks just when some of us need companionship. If you are on your own try to meet up sometime with others for lunch or even coffee, we used to have a group who called themselves the merry widows and they supported each other even when Firtree was closed. Whatever you can do keep warm, keep safe and come back in January, starting with bridge on Monday the 8th.

For Tuesday talks we offer the following


5th December       Party pieces, please let Colin know this week if you can lighten our spirits, remember we have no professionals so whatever you can do will be appreciated, it is meant to be fun.


12th December it is our Carol Service –  this year David Jenkins has been unable to come so Robert Barthram, minister at Tilehurst United Reformed Church has agreed to come and Jim Wooldridge our auditor will be playing the piano. Cold drinks and mince pies will be available after the service.


Then that is it until the 9th January when I will be reminding us of holidays past.


On the 16th January – Maureen Blake returns with more about her work in the mountains of northern India


23rd January         to be confirmed


The next newsletter will be published on January 23rd


Our holiday next year has run into a major problem in that the Hotel we were offered has no ground floor accommodation and that would limit many of our members. It is also being offered to us in June which again affects many of our members.

As we have only about thirty regulars, losing any of them would make the trip unviable in terms of cost. Jenny is working hard on trying to find an acceptable alternative.


Turkey and tinsel in Eastbourne was enjoyable and much more relaxing than Torquay. Our entertainment was limited by the fact that their local man seemed to have no idea other than bingo. There were good quality guest singers later so we were well served in the end, and the food was good; all can be forgiven if the food is good!


A small group of us met at one of the Cornerstone Retirement blocks recently to see if there was a way in which we might be able to help each other. It raised some interesting ideas but also problems in being able to put them into effect.


The committee got together last week for a meal at the Water Tower, mainly to see if it would be a good venue for a Firtree Lunch. We were pleasantly surprised at the quality and there is certainly room. We spoke to the chef and although their Christmas fare ends in December, he was very willing to do a Christmas dinner for us in January. The most likely day for this is Wednesday the 24th January. A list is now available at both the YMCA and the Chapel. The meal has a good selection of starters, main course and sweets with Mince pies and coffee to finish. That will be about £16.50 plus any drinks you choose, which is much less than in previous years. A booklet with the choices in is at both sites. It will be helpful to know how many of us are interested so that I can let the chef know what to expect.

Hopefully everyone will feel like eating again after Christmas.


The choices are –

Starters – Tomato soup / Vegetarian Nachos /pepper and stilton mushrooms / Prawn cocktail

Main – Xmess burger / 8 oz rump steak / Butternut, sweet potato, cheddar and nut roast / turkey

Desserts – Vanilla cheesecake with toasted Marshmallows / Irish cream profiteroles / Christmas pudding with brandy sauce / toffee apple crumble followed by coffee and mince pies.


If you want to get into the spirit of the Christmas story there is a Christmas pageant going from Wesley Methodist Church through the streets to St Andrew’s URC (by the hospital) complete with donkey, sheep, goats etc leaving about 12.00 and a similar trip on the 24th in Caversham (Gosbrook Road). The living Nativity stops to sing all the well-known carols on the way, stopping early on at the local pub where of course Mary and Joseph are turned away. I am sure that there will be other similar activities around Reading and in the town centre. Don’t forget that the 4th December is a late-night shopping geared for the elderly and disabled.


There is a rumour that Father Christmas has had trouble back in the toy factory due to an elf and safety problem. – it’s Christmas cracker time!!


If you want to know more about Firtree, contact Colin Ferguson ( or Mark Bowman (0118 967 7130) –


Every blessing to all our readers for Christmas and the New Year.

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