READING RETIREMENT CENTRE    (registered charity No. 281830)


(Friends in retirement taking relaxation, exercise and education)

Firtree Newsletter                         May 2021                            Issue 507

Spring is definitely here as my bluebells begin to take over the garden and the young men who care for my garden as age makes the thought of digging give me a back ache. I always leave my ‘lawn’ (football pitch as the family was younger) uncut until now as I enjoy the ‘weeds’/wild flowers. Patches of yellow celandine and wild violets are now being joined by the daisy and dandelion. I suppose the garden reflects my personality, a bit scruffy and relaxed. Having a garden at all has been a godsend over this last year and I feel quite sad for all the families that live in high-rise flats and cramped conditions. Having been a child in such conditions I know how difficult that can be.

It is good news for us that as the rules are being relaxed our Garden Circle can start to meet again and Gloria has arranged a meeting in Prospect Park at 1.30 on Monday the 10th May. The starting point will be the children’s play area. Please let Gloria know if you want to come. If you don’t know how to contact her let one of us know (details at bottom of newsletter) and we will put Gloria in touch with you.

More good news is that the bowls group are meeting again on Thursday mornings from 10.30am to 12.30, again at the Prospect Park Bowls Club. If you want to know more about this let one of us know. If you have never tried this before we can guide you in what to do. It is much easier than you might think and great fun. We have a nominal charge and bowls can be provided if you don’t have any. First day is on Thursday 29th April – 10.30 start.

Meanwhile our Zoom meetings continue with Mark and Bert presenting a QUIZ on Tuesday 4th May at 11.00. If you are not on the list for this then please let Mark know. On Tuesday 18th May Kevin Little returns with a talk entitled ‘My life with animals’. Then, on the 25th, our members who like to exercise to music will have their monthly get-together.

Thank you to those who helped to make the Easter meeting so enjoyable, especially our good friend David Jenkins.  Then Nick Brazil’s trip to the Balkans by rail introduced us to what for most of us was a relatively unknown venture.

All our meetings are open and free during this difficult time so if you, or anyone you know would like to join in by Zoom, please let Mark have your contact details.

Nothing is yet known about when we can meet and actually see each other but Mark is in regular contact with the YMCA and has already had contact with their new manager. The Chapel, like most places of worship, is beginning to be open with social spacing and face masks but it is still going to be some time before the restrictions are lifted. Meantime your committee try to keep Firtree going.

I would like to hear from those of you who would like us to arrange a holiday for later in the year. It may have to be subject to the restrictions but our holiday company is back in business so if you wish we can start looking at the possibility of a week. Please let me know if you would be interested.

Sadly, two of our members, Margaret Dams and Beryl Court, have passed away recently. Although only with us a short time, Margaret and Chris Dams have been keen supporters of our Tuesday meetings. Beryl joined Firtree in 1999 and was very much involved in helping us to operate, running both Bridge and Whist groups, as well as serving on the committee and more recently becoming a vice-president of Firtree. We will miss them both.

It is good to see Reading opening up again but please remember the bug is still there, so social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing hands are all still important. All the shops are still working to those principles. Whitley Library is now open and Southcote and Palmer Park Libraries should be open in May but you do need to book online or ring 937 5850. Eating and drinking still need to be outside, but we hope that this restriction will be lifted over the next few weeks.

It is encouraging to see this country being so involved in the battle against climate change. The effects may not be felt in our lifetime but it is now that we need to care for our future generations. I am not so happy with the serious cuts to our Aid budget and the first increase for many years in our nuclear deterrent programme. A lot of not-so-good things are hidden behind the needs of dealing with the pandemic. It is easy to forget the promises of the past which included reducing our nuclear commitment and having Aid programmes of up to 0.7% of our annual budget – it is now under 0.5%

A geriatric gardener reflects – A septuagenarian is best advised to stick to annuals. If you want to be happy for a short time get drunk; happy for a long time, fall in love; happy forever, take up gardening.          (Arthur Smith)

Live each day as if it will be your last and garden as if you are going to live forever. (Charles Warner)

To get the best results you must talk to your vegetables (Prince Charles) if you want to know more about  Firtree, contact Colin Ferguson ( – 0118 9482557,  – Mark Bowman – 0118 9677130  –  or Liz Prior o

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