Rotary and it's impact on our holiday (Part 2)

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After the bonnie hills of Scotland we headed south for two more destinations before home. Our plan was to drive to York and find a camp site there for a few days. I remember going to York as a child and reading of Vikings and it seemed as good a place as any to head. We thought we’d make it but a late start meant we wouldn’t get to the area until about 7pm. As we didn’t have a camp site booked, we decided to stop at Ripon. Arriving about 6pm we discovered the camp sites were all full. Something to do with it being a bank holiday weekend…. oh, forgot that was coming up! We did find a site eventually in a small village about half way to York. They had 1 space for 1 night so we took it.

Leaving as early as we could the next morning we carried onto Windsor. Windsor, for those that didn’t know, is where there’s a very big castle where the Royal Family have been known to visit. As James will tell you, it’s made from hundreds of lego bricks, and look, over there, a lego boat. Yes, our primary draw to Windsor was nothing to do with the real castle, Legoland held far more attraction to the children. Arriving there around lunch time we went to the tourist information centre to get a list of camp sites. Every site we phoned was full. The 7th site said they did have one pitch left, they don’t normally use it because it’s the nosiest pitch… it was 10 metres away from and below the level of the M4. We took it! To be honest, it wasn’t that noisy. As the road was above us I think most of the noise didn’t reach us. It was a bit loud compared to our previous remote camp sites but at least it could be home for a few days.

Day 1 in Windsor we visited the (real) castle, saw the Dolls house, read about how the fire had damaged the building and how it had been repaired. There was an exhibition area with displays of original Leonardo Da Vinci drawings and some of Prince Charles’ things, including his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s award book opened on the expedtion page. He assessor said the prince completed it “satisfactorily” if I remember correctly.

We had a couple of Days in Legoland too and then, on the Tuesday evening, I visited another Rotary Club, the Rotary Club of Windsor St George. Rhonda, Nicola and James had dinner in the restaurant and were very patient while I was in a very long and enjoyable meeting. I mean, how many people can say that they were one of only 30 or so people at a dinner with Al Gore! Mr Gore spoke for about an hour and gave a very interesting speech about his work. Did you know, the origin of the term “Police Station” comes from when the Railways had police posted regularly along the track? I’d often wondered what made it a ‘Police Station’, rather than a ‘Police House’ or ‘Police Office’. Oh, perhaps a little clarity, you thought I was speaking about Al Gore that’s an American diplomat or something didn’t you? Sorry, couldn’t resist. This Al Gore is a member of the Rotary Club of Windsor St George and was giving a talk on his occupation. He gave a very thorough history of Policing Railways from beginning to current day.

Another local club had visited in force (around 8 of them) as their regular club meeting place was closed. It seems there is a practice of having ‘scatter’ meetings, where instead of meeting as a club, members will go and visit other clubs. It seems a good idea as it pretty much forces people to go outside their comfort zone and meet other people.

Once again everyone was very friendly. Also visiting that night was a girl from a “Rotaract” club. Rotaract is like a young version of Rotary for people aged between 18 to 30. I gather they still work towards ‘do good things’ as a goal, but have a greater focus on social things and less protocol and formality.

I’m also wondering whether club presidents need to have unusual names – at least names I’m not very familiar with. Our president is Jarle, and the Windsor St George president is Emrys. Emrys used to be Mayor of Windsor and offered to show my family and I around the guildhall the next day but unfortunately our holiday time was up and we had to go home.

Learnings from this visit

  • It is tradition to bring greetings from your president to the club you visit. I stood and introducing myself as a New member in a new club, said I’ve just learnt of this tradition and although I’m sure Jarle would send his greetings he didn’t even know I was coming. Everyone saw the fun side
  • As a club funds raising technique, they had a “Master at Arms” who would fine members (and visitors if he could) for anything that might add to club funds. A few pennies here, a few pennies there all helps. If you visit and you’re from Kent, decide whether you’re a Man of Kent or Kentish Man before you go. Don’t expect it to help as there’ll be something else to fine you for but you wont fall into the same trap I did!

So, that’s a total of 3 club visits but before returning to my regular Wednesday morning meeting I was meeting a friend at a 4th…

Robert Robertson, talented young singer

Continuing from previous writings, I went to the Alexandra Hotel bar in the evening to use their free wi-fi to catch up on things using my laptop. The only downside of the arrangement was having to drive there from the camp site – diet coke only for me!

When I got there I noticed the microphone and speaker setup in the corner and found out there was live music on that night. Decisions decisions…. should I stay or should I go? If the music was really loud or the bar became packed I wouldn’t be able to work. I stayed, very glad I did.

I really like live music. I’ve a musical taste that covers something from everything, I know what I like, I know what I don’t, and I rarely ever manage to remember the name of the songs being played, or the person performing them. I was a little nervous at first when the singer arrived. Clearly young, he turned out to be just 14, I had a feeling this was going to be a very amateur performance with a limited range of songs. It brought back memories of me as a young teenager going to events in a white school shirt and black school trousers. How wrong first impressions can be, this lad was superb!

I should expand on superb. To begin with he was playing an instrument I’m not a huge fan of, the accordion. Playing like a professional, singing well along side it. I could appreciate the talent of this young man by the end of the first song, just not my thing. Still, I could carry on typing on my laptop as it certainly wasn’t bad background music. Then the switch to guitar. I hadn’t even seen the guitar hidden in the corner. I much prefer a guitar with some good vocals and as soon as he started playing the work rate on my laptop slowed to a near halt. This was great music. He kept switching from according to guitar, then back again. Playing a range of songs and styles, with a strong flavour of Scottish songs. As the evening progresses he picked up a feel for the audience and managed to get people singing along. Fortunately you’ll be pleased to know I didn’t join in. Aside from the English accent I would introduce thus spoiling the atmosphere, I didn’t know the words.

I recorded one song on my camera phone. The phone doesn’t do any justice to the singer or the song, but if you recognise it maybe you can tell me the songs name. Yes, I recognise it, but as I said earlier I’m very bad at remembering the names of songs

Aces High 2 – Sunday European Campaign series begins!

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If you know me, you probably know I play a flight sim from time to time called Aces High 2. Some of the players (me included) have been working a new series of events to run on Sunday evenings in the Euro Time Zone.

The first event will be Sunday the 21st September. If you’re here looking for more information, you need to be looking here for the original show your interest page or here for the official launch forum pages on the game creators site