Rotary and it's impact on our family holiday (part 1)

Posted on Tue 02 September 2008 in Family


I'm not writing this quite in chronological order. Now I've mentioned one club visit I'll carry on and write about the other visits before returning to things like our club's Charter Night. The observant reader (assuming there is a reader of my waffle) will have noticed the title is "Rotary and it's impact on our family holiday (part1)". Yes, even on holiday I ended up 'rotarying' (I'm sure that's not a word but I'll use it anyway).


Our family holiday this year was based around 2 weeks of camping. Leaving mid week we drove to the Lake District and stayed in a camp site near Lake Windermere. (here come the holiday photos!) Having spent a few days there our next stop was Fort William, the Scotish town next to Ben Nevis. Rhonda walked up Ben Nevis with her parents when she was young and we decided to try walking it with our Children. James made it over half way much to our surprise and when he and Rhonda turned back Nicola and I continued to the summit. Nicola bouncing along as if it was just a small hill, me feeling every metre of gained height in my legs. I'm not as fit as I used to be.

While at Fort William I decided to look for a Rotary Club to see if I could join them in one of their meetings. It turned out the Rotary Club of Lochabber meet in Fort Williams' Alexandra Hotel just a couple of miles away from our Camp Site. I sent an email to their contact the day before (I know, not a lot of notice!), confirmed the times and went to join them at their lunch time meeting.

Visiting this club became an important part of our family holiday - not just for me, the children were glad I went too. One of the tenets of Rotary is fellowship. Talking and getting to know people can create opportunities that wouldn't exist without it. For the meal I was sitting on a table with a lady called Mairi. She turned out to be the curator of the West Highland Museum in Fort William. I'd only walked through the high street once before and I hadn't noticed the museum (despite the huge banner across the pedestrian area). I hadn't really considered visiting any Museums in the area. Being a small town I imagined a quite small museum with things of minor interest but not quite enough to spend any time in, especially with two hyperactive children in tow. As a result of meeting Mairi we decided to stay an extra day and visit the Museum. I'm so glad we did! We must of spent over 2 hours looking at all the exhibits squeezed into the building. Mairi was talking about plans for an extension over lunch and I can see why the museum needs it. Nicola and James enjoyed it too, Nicola deciding that she's going to try and create a secret painting just like the one in the museum of Bonnie Prince Charlie. The secret painting is only visible when a reflective cylinder is placed in it's middle. The image is viewed in the reflection.

There was another reason my family liked this meeting. They weren't going to the meeting with me, the plan was for them to go swimming in the nearby council pool and for me to walk along and join them after the meeting. Unfortunately the pool was closed due to a strike so they came back to the hotel to leave a message for me. The hotel gave us a free pass to use the nearby Ben Nevis Leisure Club swimming pool instead so despite the strike they still went swimming. I also discovered they had free Wi-Fi internet in the hotel bar so returned that evening to catch up on emails. They had a great (and surprisingly young) singer that evening but more on that in the next post.

Back to Rotary, things I observed and learnt from this meeting:

  • The room was surrounded by pennants from other clubs. They were pinned to bigger backgrounds that looked as though they could be rolled up and stored between meetings.
  • I always find it interesting talking to people. At this meeting, aside from Mairi and the West Highland Museum, I also had interesting conversations with several other people. We (the family) almost went to a Highland Country Dancing evening that night which was covered in formal part of the meeting
  • . Despite being part of RIBI, the club is further away than the French club we (Canterbury Sunrise) are working on twinning with. Scotland is another country to England so perhaps this should count as my first international visit too ;-)