SKÅL UK NATIONAL: A WEEKEND TO REMEMBER
For those of you not at the National Assembly in Eastbourne over the 22-24 September weekend, you missed a grand do. So despite the doom-mongers and nay-sayers we had bucket loads of amicale, good cheer and sunshine every day.
We started proceedings a little early on Thursday evening, with 15 people enjoying an excellent Italian meal at Pomodoro e Mozzarella, where the wine flowed and the chat was loud. On return to the hotel the bar was shocked into true Skål mode and stayed open awhile...
Friday for me was spent, during beautiful sunlit hours, stuck in meetings - some interesting comments on membership development. What it comes down to is that unless we get more members Skål, certainly in the UK, will decline into a minor lunch club. Effort is being put in to rejuvenate the Scotland club and some very good ideas were put forward, with much enthusiasm from one of Brighton's newest members, Julie Oliphant, who has as much, if not more, verve than her father Ron Brooker! It's lovely to have such contact with a live wire.
The evening meal was our club “do” and was kept informal. My speech was done in the bar before dinner and everyone settled down to food and much unhindered chat. It was great seeing all the faces alight with catching up with news. The raffle had lots of excellent prizes and we raised £350.00 which will be split between my chosen charity, St Wilfrids Hospice and Paul Hoskins' 'Just a Drop' which provides clean water supplies to undeveloped countries.
Saturday saw us on a jaunt to Brighton. Unfortunately, the brand spanking new double-deck coach 'died' so a very embarrassed Patrick (from the bus comspany) had to conjure up a replacement, every coach/bus operator's nightmare in not having the same quality available. But hey ho, we're intrepid travel people and made the best of it without (too much) complaint. We ran late but got just about everything in, although some people turned the wrong way and missed the Lanes. Others wendered their way to a pub or to Cafe Nero. Super fresh, crisp, fish and chips in the sunshine on the pier were followed by a visit to the Royal Pavilion – a stunning building which never ceases to amaze. The trip back to the Lansdowne Hotel was via the coast road and rolling Sussex Downs countryside, re-entering Eastbourne via Upper Dukes Drive, our local version of the Amalfi coast road – interesting in a double deck bus.
Neville had set a quiz (to be answered during the day) and the answers were delivered to 'Meet and Greet' for checking. Margaret Cahill, Irish National President was the winner by one point. Not bad eh? Particularly as the questions had a definite Brighton and Sussex slant. Dinner in the evening was all posh frocks, DJs and gongs. Good food, not much in the way of lengthy speeches, and dancing to 'All Time High'. Excellent mixture. AND we won the Tantalus as 'Club Of the Year'. Howzat! Have spent a quiet hour making it shine and sparkle and it'll look even better when it's got booze in it again - Guernsey returned it empty! (They had a good explanation).
Sunday morning was quiet on the chat front but busy for the hotel, which was full and coping admirably. We had a 'virtual' flag lowering ceremony as access to the flagpole is via a bedroom and the inhabitants were still abed!! All the goodbyes and must meet agains were said in the sunshine outside. The International President, David Fisher, had already left at some unearthly hour to get to Heathrow. What a nice man he is! Very genial, good sense of humour and happy to mix in with everything.
Lots of people deserve thanks for making it a very enjoyable Assembly, plenty of hard work from a number of our Members but I'm only going to name one. Philip. He worked his socks off to make everything come together and I couldn't have done it without him.
So to all who helped, and very much so to those who attended, a very big thank you.
I'm sure other things have happened in the past month but I'm blowed if I can remember! Oh yes... went to Sorrento and Positano to see my son married. Months of hot weather and sunshine with mountain bush fires and what does it do on the day? Rain. Monsoon quantities came down along with much thunder and epic lightning.