Stody Lodge Garden Visit
Tuesday 7th May 2019
Petra, Emma Jane, Joanna and myself were to meet Serena in the car park at 12 noon. She has already parked when we arrived, and preparing the picnic for us. A cold meat and quiche salad followed by strawberries and cream and a glass of prosecco. She had the previous day celebrated her 25th birthday again!
As we sat and enjoyed the lunch in all our finery we watched as a photography group arrived with their hasselblads, Pentaxs and tripods. We were all looking forward to the promised personalised garden tour. At this point Joanna informed us that the personalised tour of the gardens was all part of a ruse to get us there!
Joanna divulged her involvement of Operation Azalia, the culmination of a 3 month investigation of narcotics hidden in camera equipment. The mastermind behind this, Joanna told us was Maxine (of course not her real name) and we should engage with the photography group to find her.
Considerably disappointed by not having the tour by the head gardener, Richard, we headed towards the famous water garden with the largest collection of Azalias in the UK.
Of course as an Oasis lady on a visit we are trained to blend into the surroundings so no-one will notice us!! We take meticulous care and precision each time we go out to match the surrounding we are visiting, the people we are likely to meet and the expected weather. Our outfits aren’t just slung together. I spend at least an hour constructing and 2 hours looking in the mirror!!
As we strolled around the garden in bright sunshine we made contact with the photograph group. It was easy because we girls always like our photos taken! Beccie quickly found Maxine looking very shifty, so “Joanna” probed her on her camera equipment and “Serena” on the exhibition at the Sainsbury’s Centre. She was definitely the one! She had never heard of a photography exhibition at the Sainsbury’s Centre and didn’t know her Olympus from her box brownie!
After Maxine admitted her quilt, Joanna was willing to reduce her sentence if she took an extensive portfolio of photos of the group for a new exhibition at the Sainsbury’s Centre titled “Stody and Us”.
To complete the day we sat having our cream tea as Joanna debriefed us and chatted about gardening and weather after Brexit!
Lunch and Learn
As webmistress of our Oasis website I get lots of enquiries about the group from both individuals and organisations. Some of these enquiries result in new members who go onto to be stalwart of the group and others result in a flurry of correspondence and little else.
In June an inquiry popped into my email box asking for help with Clarion Housing Association, based in Norwich. They were running a Diversity Week and wondered if we might be interested in coming along for a “lunch and learn” event.
The idea is that people from the organisation would, if they so wished, come along with their packed lunch and chat to us about what it’s like to be Trans.
Not certain of numbers involved I enlisted the help of Vicky and Geri and we arranged to visit them on Thursday 28th June.
When the day came we duly arrived to a very plush air conditioned building on Broadland commercial development.
Kay, the organiser, met us and guided us to one of their conference suites, where we were introduced to some of the willing participants.
We were asked to say a little about ourselves and then had a good discussion about various trans issues. One of the ladies who attended, child was going through transition (F2M) and for us it was interested to hear the up and downs of how she dealt with everyday issues. In fact, it was as much a “lunch and learn” for us as it was for them.
I think it was probably the first time they had met the trans community at their offices and let’s hope it’s not the last!
Oasis visits Stody Big Gay Out
Saturday 26th May started out very dull but by the time we arrived at Stody Lodge Gardens, around 1.30pm the cloud burnt away to reveal a glorious sunny day. It was a special LGBT+ event to raise funds for Norwich Pride.
After the £6 admission and a map to guide us by we were presented with a wall of perfumed scent as we strolled down the Azaleas Walk leading to the main lawn with the Pride Choir singing their hearts out in the background. There we met Lizzy, on of our Oasis members. It was good to catch-up on news.
Decision time, do we go straight to the refreshment tent, or take in the sights? Unfortunately I lost and we ventured to the Azalea Water Gardens with over 2000 plants, believed to be the largest single planting of Azaleas in the UK. There we met Elaine and Jenny two of our past Oasis members.
Outstanding vistas are fine but refreshments are better so to quench our thirst and sample the rainbow cakes, sold to raise funds for the 10th anniversary of Norwich Pride on Saturday 28th July, we made a beeline for the tent!
All in all a great day out and good to be “out” and strolling around a beautify garden being “ourselves”!
There is no doubt we will visit Stody Lodge Gardens again!
Joanna, Petra and Beccie.
Oasis @ Bellamia’s Party
On Wednsday, 23rd April, we were invited to an evening at Bellamias Party, in Barker Street in Norwich (near to Halfords), by the owner, Karen Williams. Bellamias Party is housed in a commercial unit with some parking off road (parking is also permitted on the road).The purpose of the visit was to find out how Oasis could use the facilities, or other ways we might benefit from Karen’s expertise.
Beccie, Vicky, Serena, Carole, Petra and Geri were warmly welcomed by Karen and her friend, Victoria, who helped her throughout the evening. We were given coffee and tea in very comfortable (and very pink) surroundings.
Bellamias Party is designed for parties aimed at young girls so the facilities are very much geared to experimenting with make-up, wigs and dressing up. There are make-up tables with mirrors and lights and a studio with backdrops and lighting for photo sessions. There is a large room upstairs.
The first part of the evening was a demonstration of a facial and make up with Beccie as the model. Karen explained that she sells a make-up called Tropic, developed by Susie Ma, a runner up on The Apprentice. Her philosophy is very much about natural ingredients and animal welfare. Beccie’s facial consisted of make-up remover, toner and exfoliator, followed by a facial mask for hydration and face lift to create clear skin. A supergreen serum (rather like a smoothie) was applied. There is also a daily moisturiser.
There was more experimentation with hand creams and other products. Beccie and Petra also opted for a foot spa.
More coffee and tea followed with a lot of congenial chatting with Karen and Victoria. The evening ended with a “bitch raffle” – a new experience for all of us! Three prizes were on offer, prosecco, Disorono chocolates and a make-up collection. All the tickets are drawn and, if you have a winning ticket, you can choose whichever prize you like, even if it has already been won. Very quickly, Serena had all three prizes, only to have them snatched away! (She ended up with nothing as usual!)
It really was a most enjoyable evening, due in no small part to Karen and Victoria’s bubbly and outgoing personalities. It would be great if they could come to Oasis to tell us more about skin care and make-up or we could arrange another visit to Bellamias with more ladies to learn about make-up or use the photographic facilities. Obviously, there are plenty of changing and make-up facilities.
Life an adventure! Dress Accordingly!
On Thursday the 22nd of February I was joined by Beccie and Clare to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert at The Open, a venue near Tombland in Norwich. The show was produced by the Sound Ideas Theatre Company based in Norwich, an innovative theatre company based in Norwich.
We started the evening off with an Italian meal at Prezzo, then toddled off to see what we knew was a great show close to all our hearts. The story of three trans friends on a fun filled road trip to Alice Springs in Australia.
The staging, costumes and acting was outstanding – with songs such as “It’s Raining Men, What’s Love Got to do with it, Girls Just Want to have Fun and True Colours. How do you get a full size bus on a stage?
We have to say it was a fantastic show in a packed theatre, alas we were the only “T’s” of LGBT there to our knowledge, but really felt at home until Beccie and I were addressed as “Sir” by one of the bar and production staff. (are they blind to beauty!) Alas society still has some way to go!
Clare, in her glamorous red dress, was by far the gorgeous one with Beccie and I, the ugly sisters!!!!!!
We finished the evening off with a late night drink at a local bar then home!
Girls you missed a great evening!!
Norwich Theatre Trip to see La Cage aux Folles
I walked into the theatre and the thought hit me that I only knew 1 person who was going to be there! I had been kindly invited via Facebook through the amazing Lizzie, who I met through the Pride Choir. For a moment nerves gripped me, I had been brave enough to say I would join the Oasis group for a meal beforehand – now I felt worried. There were two ladies in the lobby area, I took a chance that they might be part of the meal group and – well I just asked them if they were with the group organised by Julia. That was my first good decision of the evening, the two ladies, Hannah and Serena were warm and friendly, and chatted while waiting for the others to arrive. It was such a pleasure to meet Julia, she made me feel so welcome, and was wearing an absolutely gorgeous gold and black dress.
The meal was lovely, I sat next to Joanna who was super fun to chat to, and Beccie’s dry sense of humour kept me smiling! There was even another Vicky at the meal, although, with my 4ft 11inch stature the other Vicky was distinguishable from me by height! Another treat was seeing the very handsome dancers in the bar early in the evening….my regret was not being brave enough to ask for autographs!
The play completely lived up to my expectations, as I type it this morning in the university library I reflect on the dancing, the singing that blew my mind, the dresses, the feathers. My ignorance that I didn’t know this was the origin of the wonderful song “I am what I am”. I have never heard that song performed live, I hadn’t anticipated being taken from near tears at the beginning to triumphant joy at the end! I felt emotionally carried throughout the musical, with the characters through their difficulties often built on others prejudice, or fear of prejudice through to a triumphant end where the main characters are united in loving acceptance.
To be honest that’s how I felt at the end, having my photo taken with the Oasis group. On the surface I had no belonging to the group, I’m a rather shy mature psychology student who snapped up an opportunity to see a fantastic musical with a friend and her friends. I was impressed with the performance, and blown away by the warm welcome I received and – I’m really looking forward to future adventures!
Vicky – Friend of Oasis
Come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab!
On Thursday 14th September saw our next Oasis and friends outing, this time to see the ever popular Rocky Horror show at the Theatre Royal in Norwich.
Julia, the camp commandant, assembled the troops with a roll call at seventeen hundred hours in Kemp’s restaurant adjacent to the theatre. Half the group sat down to a meal in a variety of outfits that had many a head turning from the passers-by. Magenta maid outfits were in abundance but anything goes at RHS as Vicky and Beccie proved.
We meet our remaining party, totalling 31,upstairs in the theatre and Julia introduced everyone. We had the Oasis, Banham Zoo, Litcham and Bread Source group.
Of course RHSs success is directly related to the narrator, and Steve Punt did us proud, controlling the usual outburst from the audience with his own witty remarks.
It was an excellent production as usual.
Again the credit for this trip has to go to Julia for her organisational skills, large overdraft limit on her credit card and meal spreadsheet.
We all look forward to the next planned outing in January to “La Cage Aux Folles” with a show stopping score that includes The Best of Times, Song on the Sand and I Am What I Am.
Oasis goes Kinky (Boots)!
Our journey began with an Oasis Executive Board meeting at Norwich railway station by our illustrious leader Julia who gave us the final details and timing of our great adventure!
Then it was embarkation with our luggage. The genetic-ladies of course packed light and sensible with tiny suitcases while the trans-ladies packed as if they were going on a 2 week vacation with enough spare outfits, tights and shoes to supply a beauty pageant!
Vicky had very kindly supplied an array of delicious cakes made by her fair hand. They were enjoyed by everyone many times over on the journey to London. Some people even popping extra portion into their pockets, knickers and handbags for a midnight feast at the hotel later and to sell at Convent Garden on Saturday to pay for the trip!
Finally after a small problem with contactless and Oyster cards and having the right change from some of the technophobic ladies we checked into the Travelodge at Covent Garden and prepared ourselves for the evening.
I suppose the steady downpour as we all assembled in the hotel lobby was a premonition of how the evening was going to pan out. Beccie and Vicky didn’t take their coats, as it would spoil the look, and after all we were going in a taxi! Could we get a taxi – no because the whole of London was also trying to get a taxi in the rain!
When the taxis arrived at Bella Italia opposite the Adelphia theatre purposely booked for convenience by Julia so 6” heels and skimpy outfits would not be a problem, our problems were just beginning – they were experiencing electrical problems and we had to be directed to the next branch a mile away.
That’s a mile away in pouring rain, with heels, skimpy outfits and tiny umbrellas. But for us girls “there’s no gain without pain!” The group eventually got there, despite losing the rear party temporarily at Covent Garden. Julia came up trumps and negotiated a good discount on the meal!
Although it was another wet and cold walk back to the theatre the show was magnificent, and we had all soon forgotten the rain.
Kinky Boots was absolutely fabulous, a lovely story, full of wonderful songs written by Cindi Lauper and beautiful costumes. I’m sure all of the ladies, but in particular Vicki and Claire, would love to own all the pairs of Kinky Boots.
After the show Julia’s daughter, Beth, who had rushed straight from work to join us for the show, guided us to an appropriate but noisy wateringhole for after-theatre drinks to round off our eventful evening and, a little weary from our adventure, we stumbled back some on foot some by taxi, to our welcoming beds.
Next morning over breakfast we discussed how we would spend the remaining time left in London, Antonia and Stephanie decided to visit The National Gallery while the rest of us went to Covent Garden. June, one of the ladies and our guide, took us on a trip down memory lane, to the very spot where she worked some 50 years ago – now an Italian restaurant.
The return trip back home was not without incident either as we had to change trains before leaving London due to a medical emergency. As the train neared the end of the journey we recounted the highlight, the ups and downs of such a wonderful trip and where we were going next –The Big Apple, Amsterdam, or perhaps the exclusive Lyceum in Skegness.
On the way home Beccie presented a scarf to Julia as a thank you on behalf of us all for organising the trip.
Well done Julia our Events Organiser – you have fully passed your probation! A huge thank you on behalf of all.
Jules and Beccie
Cinema Trip to see the Danish Girl.
Conversation as always was lively and despite over-stretching the service at Pizza Hut everyone eventually got their meal. The usual chaos ensued as we settled the bill but in the end the amount collected surpassed the amount required and the staff at Pizza hut were left with a generous tip!