My First Meeting at the Probus Club

Dr Jeff Grover
Dr Jeff Grover

I arrived at the meeting venue in good time so as not to make a poor impression had I been late. Fortunately, my host was waiting for me in the bar (where else?) and introduced me to a number of members standing close by.

I was a little nervous at first not really knowing what to expect but everyone was very friendly and welcoming. All were wearing a club tie and lapel pin in their jackets. Oh yes, dress code. As it was mid-morning and not the evening I did not have to wonder if it was a black-tie occasion (because I was unsure if my dinner suit would still fit me since my retirement) or, would a lounge suit or jacket and tie be sufficient? I was reassured that my smart jacket and tie seemed to suit the occasion admirably.

After a while, we were called into the dining room which had several large tables. Oh, where do I sit? Anywhere and everywhere was the answer. Wherever there’s a spare seat; after all, Probus does not encourage cliques but wants a clear mix of members from one month to another to allow everyone to know each other better.

After a short introduction there followed a talk by an outside speaker. On the first occasion, the topic was about the Oregon Trail in the USA. Subsequent talks have been about cycling the length of the USA, life observations by someone who naturally enough always saw the funny side of life (and was indeed very funny) and the life and times of a BBC radio reporter. The talks are varied, informative, humorous and always well received.

Lunch followed. A traditional English meal was served followed by a dessert. I had chosen the biscuits and cheese as an alternative to the dessert. Conversation flowed and the noise increased with laughter and chatter all around me. I discovered that members were retired having followed a wide variety of careers including bomb disposal, banknote forgery, nuclear science, paper manufacture, motorheads and many other occupations. In turn upon retirement members had devoted their spare time to cruising, holidays, bird watching, playing golf, politics and so on. What an eclectic bunch.

After lunch, the President, resplendent in his chain of office, made various announcements of interest to the assembled members including what many considered the most important decision of the meeting – what to eat at the next lunch meeting!!

Other announcements followed including details of various trips being organised that would be of interest to members and their partners as well as less formal meetings at various pubs and restaurants being held throughout the year.

I made my way home in the early afternoon thinking what great value for money I had enjoyed. For a modest outlay of £25 annual subscription plus £13 a month for the cost of the meal, I wondered about the people I had met, the conversations that followed and the interesting and fascinating lives of those around me.

Nature Photography by Stephen Thair

Here is further evidence of the interest by member Stephen Thair in anything from the natural world and his photographic expertise.

The first two are from a local walk in the bluebell woods around Hodds Farm in Old Basing although the third is of Stitchworts in the same wood.7. Bluebell woods - Hodds Farm, Old Basing (10)

7. Bluebell woods - Hodds Farm, Old Basing (11)

6. Stitchworts - Hodd Farm, Old Basing (2)

The next three photographs are from the holiday Stephen and Margaret took at the beginning of the year to Costa Rica

53. Collared Aracari - Evergreen Ecolodge - Tortuguero (1)
A Collared Acacari Bird
6. Two-toed Sloth - El Ciervo (18)
A Two-Toed Sloth
34. Spectacled Caiman - Tortuguero NP (2)
A Spectacled Caiman – not something seen often around Basingstoke




Bird Photography by Jonathan Ratcliff

It’s surprising what we learn about people during this period of self-isolation, none more so than the fact that Jonathan Ratcliff is not only a keen photographer but also has an interest in ornithology.
Here are three examples of starlings taken from his window using the camera on his Apple Iphone. Very impressive.

Just so that you know, I tried to upload a video that Jonathan had made of these Starlings and after spending two hours with my son (over Zoom) it appears that to have videos on our web site means having to pay for an upgrade. So regrettably we shall have to live without them.IMG_7316IMG_7340IMG_7348