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British Mensa Annual Gathering 2017 - Programme


Welcome! View the AG2017 programme on this page.


Click on the 'book here' button at the end of the listings to make an online booking.

Bookings for this event are now closed.





The start/finish times listed for external events are for leaving the hotel and approximate return to the hotel.

If you are carrying on to an event from a previous event – a list of meeting times at venues will be available ahead of the weekend.

All travel to events is on foot or by public transport or we will arrange transport for you. E.g. Taxi or car share. Public transport costs will be additional to the cost of the event unless otherwise stated.

Look out for the local event host for each event in the hotel lobby. Please arrive on time so that we can make our way to our booked slots at the venue.

      Thursday 7th September 2017    
Start Finish     Getting there  
19:45 22:00   Orwell Park Observatory    FULL

Described as one of the finest Victorian observatories still in regular use, the Orwell Park Observatory stands elegantly on the banks of the River Owell, in Nacton, near Ipswich. We invite early delegates to a beginners Guide to the Night Sky. What you can see with the naked eye. This was a private observatory built near the end of the 19th Century with a state-of-the- art telescope and a powered Equatorial mount, so the telescope tracks the stars. We will be able to see the telescope and be told of its history, and if the night is clear, visitors will be able to look through and see any appropriate items of interest. This is in a boarding school, so is not open to the general public. CAR SHARE

      Friday 8th September 2017    
14:00 20:30   Mensa Registration desk - officially open!    
      Find us, say hello and collect your welcome packs! HOTEL    
14:15 16:00   Suffolk records office    

The Suffolk Record Office maintains a historical record of Suffolk and its people. They look after original documents obtained from many different sources. WALK & BUS

16:00 18:00   Mensa Games Workshop   FREE

Join in for an afternoon of playing a fascinating board game and also learning about the theory. Don’t worry if you are a beginner, we will be available to teach/coach you. Other games could be made available, email Alan Farrell, Games Officer to make a suggestion:   HOTEL

17:00 19:00   Ipswich Town Football Club Stadium Tour   £18.00
      Over 60's and under 16's   £15.00
      The official stadium tour will include the opportunity to see the dressing rooms. Take a walk down the players' tunnel and see the stadium from pitch level as you imagine the roar of the crowd. Enjoy the moment as you take up your position in the dugout.  The tour also takes you to the Board Room and the Champions Lounge, with lots of memorabilia on display including: International caps, FA Cup and Championship winners' medals and replica UEFA, FA and Play-off Final Trophies. Visit the Directors' Box, the Media Suite and finally take a stroll down the Millennium Walkway to find the name of your favourite Ipswich Town star. A stadium tour certificate will also be presented upon departure. WALK  
17:30 18:30   Welcome - Is this Your 1st AG / Event?   FREE

Mensa Chairman Jenny Gill hosts a welcome session for members attending their first AG! HOTEL

18:30 19:30   Welcome Meal - Sitting 1   £15.00

Icebreaker two course dinner.  Click here for menu options. First sitting. HOTEL

19:00 23:00   Rendezvous @ Ipswich - welcome!   Free

Meet new friends, find old faces and resurrect acquaintances as the weekend starts in earnest. Watch / take part in - Call my bluff. HOTEL

20:00 21:00   Welcome Meal - Sitting 2   £15.00

Icebreaker two course dinner. Click here for menu options. Second sitting. HOTEL

19:50 21:00   Ghost Walk   FULL

A guided tour of haunted sites in Ipswich. This may include a visit to a haunted pub! WALK

21:00 22:15   Chansons Français    FREE

Chansons Français - Gwendal Moële & Paul Riley - Chansons form an outstanding singer and guitarist duo. Mainly French material, from old-time classics like Edith Piaf to more modern stuff- e.g. the English version of Jacques Brel's, “Ne me quitte pas". HOTEL

22:00 Late   Poker Tournament   £10.00*

Will you be crowned this year’s Poker champion! Medals and cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd.  Disconnect yourself from the internet and play with real cards and real chips. Fixed entry stake. Texas Hold'em only. Available as part of games bundle. HOTEL

      Saturday 9th September 2017    
08:30 17:15   Tide Mill and Sutton Hoo Coach Trip   £25.00
      National Trust Member*   £15.00

Coach trip to Sutton Hoo and The Woodbridge Tide Mill. Both of these are open to the public, but at Sutton Hoo they are going to put on a reconstruction of the ‘court’ which decided on the status of the ‘treasure’ found there. Was it Treasure Trove or not? The Tide Mill will give us a guided tour and show the mill working. Bring your National Trust cards if you have one for the discounted price. Coach to and from hotel, some walking at both venues. *Please note you must be a valid member of the National Trust at the time of the trip and have proof to gain discounted entry. Return coach travel is included in the ticket price. COACH

08:30     Leave for Tide Mill

09:15     Arrive Tide Mill

11:00     Leave Tide Mill

11:40     Arrive Sutton Hoo,

13:00     First Re-enactment

15:00     Second Re-enactment

16:30     Leave Sutton Hoo

17:15     Return to Novotel


10:00 18:00   Follow the Heritage Trail   FREE
      There are 100s of places of interest open this weekend. Pick up a leaflet and make your route! WALK / BUS          
10:30 11:15   TALK by David Davies. Suffolk's other Famous Russians.   £2.00

A fascinating talk about the family of the last Russian Imperial Ambassador to the Court of St James, some of whom are buried in a country churchyard just a few miles from Ipswich: a muse, a sailor, a harpist who played at Lenin's funeral and the wife of a QC and banker. HOTEL

10:30 12:30   Ipswich Escape Rooms   FULL

Looking for something different to do in Ipswich? Then this is it. In teams of 2 - 5 you have 60 minutes to escape a locked room using only the power of your brain. CAR SHARE - return travel included in ticket price.

11:00 12:30   Willis Building   FREE

Willis Building - Iconic building now more than 40 years old. Norman Foster is credited with the building, with its hanging glass as curtain walls and open plan offices (radical for 1970s). A chance to visit roof garden and the coffee bar will be open. WALK

11:45 14:00   Tobogganing   £12.00

If you want the chance to try something fun, fast and fabulous then tobogganing or maybe ringos on Ipswich’s dri-ski slope has to be it! CAR SHARE - return travel included in ticket price.

12:00 13:30   Ipswich School   £2.00

The only school to be mentioned in Shakespeare. A special guided tour by the headmaster including tea and biscuits. It will include the library with four John Piper windows. Lots of interesting features and architecture. WALK

13:00 14:00   My Pet Hate   FREE

Come and share your pet hate with others, get it off your chest and see if others agree with you – or have you been duped all this time, can you be converted?!  A light hearted relaxed session where you can come and debate a variety of topics with others. HOTEL

13:00 17:00   Museum of East Anglian Life   PAYG

The Museum of East Anglian Life is a museum, located in Stowmarket, Suffolk, which specialises in presenting the agricultural history of East Anglia through a mixture of exhibits and living history demonstrations. This involves a short walk to the rail station. A 15 minute train journey to Stowmarket, then a short walk across to the venue. Click here to view a map. WALK & TRAIN

13:30 15:00   Ipswich Museum   FREE

This was the museum that did the original dig at Sutton Hoo. Large natural history collection. WALK

13:30 17:30   River Orwell Cruise   £25.00

We have reserved tickets for a trip on the river! Enjoy the journey down the River Orwell to Harwich Harbour and the Stour Estuary to view the UK’s largest container port at Felixstowe and historic Harwich. WALK+BOAT

14:00 16:00   Mensa Connections Tournament   £10.00*
      Three players’ Connections, British Open Championship. Available as part of the games bundle. HOTEL    
14:00 18:00   Real Ale Runabout   £7.50
      All aboard the real ale tour bus! It with take us on a gentle pub crawl visiting a selection of country pubs serving fine ales! Drinks are PAYG at each stop. REAL ALE BUS    
14:30 16:00   Freemasons Hall   FREE

Completed in 1870. The hall is open for the weekend but we will have a guided tour. The temple is of particular interest. WALK

16:30 17:30   TALK by Paul Whiting. The Greatest Show Not On Earth.   £2.00

This talk will cover one of the most spectacular astronomical phenomena that can be easily seen from the Earth – the solar eclipse. Paul will discuss what eclipses and other similar phenomena are, their impact on our understanding of the Universe, and the trials and tribulations of the eclipse chaser trying to see them. The talk is part science and part travelogue with some anecdotes of 20 years travelling the world in search of these elusive sights. HOTEL

19:00 19:30   Pre-Dinner drinks reception   PAYG
19:30 22:30   AG Gala Dinner. Black tie - dress to impress.   £27.50

Choose one option from each course on the booking form in the payment section. 


1.Homemade Leek and potato soup served with bread rolls

2.Smoked Chicken breast served with Roquette and piccalilli

3.Grilled goats cheese served on a toasted jalapeno bruschetta with balsamic infused olive oil


1.Pan Fried Supreme of Chicken wrapped with bacon and served with new potato wedges and creamy tarragon sauce

2.Fillet of Plaice served with parsley mash

and creamy dill sauce

3. Mediterranean Vegetable tart tatin with Somerset brie cheese and pesto rosso (V)


1.Warm chocolate tart served with caramelised kumquats and mint chocolate ice cream

2.Homemade Rhubarb and apple crumble served with custard

3.Selection of ice creams

22:30 00:00   Late night dancing - with DJ   FREE

Dance the night away from a play set of Mensa favourite tunes spanning the decades. Do you have a favourite? Click here to send in your play request and we forward on to the DJ. HOTEL

22:30 Late   Late Night Poker   £10.00

Another chance to play late night poker. Cash prizes derived from the pot on the evening will be shared out to 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. Fixed entry stake. Texas Hold'em only. HOTEL

      Sunday 10th September 2017    
10:00 18:00   Follow the Heritage Trail   FREE
      There are 100s of places of interest open this weekend. Pick up a leaflet and make your route! WALK / BUS    
10:30 11:30   British Mensa Annual General Meeting   Register
      Please note: Entry only to current members of British Mensa Ltd. HOTEL    
11:45 12:45   Mensa The Future   FREE
      Meet the board members and find out what's next for the organisation. HOTEL    
11:00 12:30   Willis Building   FREE

Willis Building - Iconic building now more than 40 years old. Norman Foster is credited with the building, with its hanging glass as curtain walls and open plan offices (radical for 1970s). A chance to visit the roof garden and coffee bar will be open. WALK

13:30 15:00   Christchurch Mansions   £4.00

This beautiful Tudor Mansion is the jewel in the crown of Ipswich’s historic past, boasting over 500 years of history. Explore period rooms including the Tudor kitchen, sumptuous Georgian saloon, beautifully detailed Victorian wing and much more! WALK

13:30 17:30   All aboard the River Orwell Charter Cruise + Includes afternoon cream tea   FULL

Enjoy  a selection of freshly made sandwiches on brown & white bread, home-made scones with strawberry jam and fresh whipped cream, selection of small cakes and shortbread biscuits with unlimited cups of tea!

We will leave the wet dock at Ipswich and once through the historic locks we will pass under the Orwell Bridge and down river to Pin Mill taking in the majestic sights of Freston Tower and the beautiful surrounding Suffolk countryside. We will continue down river to Harwich Harbour and the Stour Estuary. The cruise includes Harwich Harbour, and historic Harwich, including the opportunity to see from the water (weather permitting) the UK's largest container Port at Felixstowe. We then turn in Harwich Harbour and return back up the river to Ipswich. WALK + BOAT

14:00 16:00   Bridge Tournament   £10.00*

A formal bridge tournament to contest the 2017 Mensa bridge championship. This is an individual contest; no partner required. Available in games bundle. HOTEL

14:00 18:00   Martlesham Heath Control Tower   FREE

Well worth a trip out to this fascinating old tower now a museum. WALK+BUS

16:30 17:30   TALK by Anne Folan. Did the sewers save lives? Public Health in Ipswich 1840-1911   £2.00

The mortality rate in Ipswich fell quite dramatically between 1851 and 1911.  One very important factor affecting this decline was the development of various facets of public health in the town, including the construction of the sewers and the appointment of the Medical Officer of Health.  This talk outlines the history of the development of public health initiatives in Ipswich during the Victorian and Edwardian periods and assesses its impact on the death rate. HOTEL

19:00 23:00   Sunday Evening Meal - Ipswich Harbour   £18.00

Cult Café is a fun and friendly eatery with an envious position on the Ipswich Waterfront and a fantastic view. WALK

Choose one option from the interesting American diner-style menu.


1.Buffalo chicken tenders, blue cheese & celery dip

2.Spicy salmon enchilada, guacamole

3.Egg drop noodle soup


1.Beef lasagne, salad & garlic bread

2.Chicken breast with mai-kee sauce,

crispy djanga vegetable pickle

3.Prawn nachos – spicy prawns, refried beans, guacamole, salsa, sour cream & cheese

4.Spinach & ricotta filo potato pie, pepper sauce


1.Black Forest Gateau with pouring cream


      Monday 11th September 2017    
AM     Free time. Take one last look around before you wave goodbye!    
12:00 14:00   Goodbye lunch   PAYG

Join us for an end of AG lunch. There are plenty of nice reasonably priced venues nearby for us to decide. WALK



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