READING RETIREMENT CENTRE    (registered charity No. 281830)


(Friends in retirement taking relaxation, exercise and education)

Firtree Newsletter                         June 2021                            Issue 508 

At last, we can all join in a big HUG. I know it is still virtual, but just wrap your arms around yourself and say something you would like to hear.

Firtree is slowly getting there with a well-attended Garden group and plans for the Craft group to start again at Gloria’s home. Now we can actually go inside in small groups the rain is not such a problem. However, the issue of getting our meetings up again is not likely until September and it is increasingly unlikely that we shall be able to use the YMCA.

In the meantime, we will still provide speakers twice a month until August and then again in September. It may be that our Tuesday meetings will change so that every other week is more relaxed and social. In September we will arrange a general discussion about the future which could incorporate the business that we need to do as a charity group. We are so fortunate that we have got people like Monica still doing work for us way past their original term of office. Having spent a lot of time ensuring we had a workable constitution, this last year has made it impossible to do things by the book. Thankfully we have the skills of Mark to Zoom and thus to keep our Tuesday talks going. Remember nobody gets paid in Firtree. It is up to us to run the club,

Nobody has been in touch with me to say they would like a holiday to be arranged this year so we will try to arrange a couple of outings in the Autumn and look again at a holiday break next year when we can be more certain of what is happening. This coming month we welcome Chris Helme reminding us what holidays used to be like, and on the 16th Colin will be travelling the world (part 1). Looking ahead, Ann Smith will be talking about Reading’s Shops and on the 20th stand by for another of Mark’s quizzes. On the 3rd August we hope to hear about Reading Abbey’s 900 year history. We are not meeting on the 17th as hopefully it will be holiday time. September we really do hope that we will be able to meet but that is still unclear.

This last month we had a very lively quiz from Mark and a fascinating talk from Kevin Little on his animal sanctuary. Sadly, he was cut short by a freak of nature and not by Mark. I am sure there is more to come.

In a brief discussion after the last session it was clear that one of the things that is annoying people is the difficulty in getting to see a doctor. This experience does change from place to place. Thankfully I have not needed the doctor but other appointments I have had to make have had no problems at all.

I am afraid our old ‘family doctor’ system is part of the good old days when doctors actually had their own control. The new system should be able to provide a much wider service as Surgeries work with other specialists and not just doctors. Unfortunately, the change-over became a point when many older doctors retired or started working in the new system with shorter hours. This has resulted in a lot of short-term appointments and we no longer have our own doctor. Everyone over a certain age should have a nominated doctor, though again I have had three in the last two years. The sad thing about this new all singing and dancing surgery is that not only do you not see the same doctor but neither do they see the same patients. It is supposed to be more efficient – but it seems less friendly.

Add that to a pandemic when many doctors have also been very ill because of their heavy work load and the high-risk factors and you have a very dangerous world for all medical staff. We are very blessed by having a free and well-trained service.

So many other nations do not have a free service.

It will be interesting to hear from one of the local health bodies what they see as the priorities for the health service, so we will try to get someone on our talk list.

Ideas for speakers will be very welcome though Zoom does enable us to spread our speakers net much wider. Chris Helme will be talking to us from his home in Yorkshire!

It was so nice to have my daughter and one of my sons to stay with us for a couple of days this week. It was well worth the hangover the next morning!!

It is hard to believe it will be June next week – there is certainly nothing flaming about it now and we have another Bank Holiday on Monday – it used to be such a nice weekend.

I find that my ten-minute nap after lunch is getting longer. Perhaps I am getting like Ronald Regan who gave orders to be woken up at any time in case of national emergency even if he was in a cabinet meeting.

I used to try and take some exercise in the afternoon but that just made my nap twice as long.

I don’t agree with Henry Ford who said “Exercise is bunk. If you are healthy, you don’t need it. If you’re sick you should avoid it.”

A final word from Oscar Wilde: “I often take exercise. Only yesterday I had breakfast in bed.” Obviously, this was before he went to Reading prison.

if you want to know more about  Firtree, contact Colin Ferguson ( – 0118 9482557,  – Mark Bowman – 0118 9677130  –  or Liz Prior on 0118 942 2958

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