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...