Reports - Weekends 2014

Autumn Weekend - Skegness

'Skegness? In November?? Turkey and Tinsel???' An unlikely combination…

We arrived on the Friday afternoon, to be welcomed with tea/coffee/biscuits, and Maria, Liz, Phil and David wearing reindeer horns as they handed out the welcome packs. The hotel had been beautifully decorated by Lucy and Janet with decorations, trees, presents and rather wobbly reindeer!

Friday night was Christmas Eve - the fancy dress theme was 'Christmas' - what else? - complete with a turkey, various elves, Father Christmas in his traditional green outfit (Father Christmas only began to wear red in the 1930s, when Coca Cola hijacked him), parcels, and fairies. Others wore Christmas earrings, jumpers etc. Drew as Baa Humbug and Gill as a present won the fancy dress competition - well done! We had a three course buffet supper and then danced the night away with James who sang our requests. The tombola prizes were mugs which had been filled with little gifts and wrapped up - very popular mystery prizes!

After a hearty breakfast on Saturday, we went out - some to Staples Vegetables producers and onto Boston, and others to Tattershall Castle and Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre. The views of Lincolnshire from the roof of the Castle were amazing. We saw Just Jane at the Heritage Centre - much bigger than I would have imagined. There was a plane we could sit in - so claustrophobic and the pilots who flew on these missions deserve our utmost respect.

As Saturday was Christmas Day, we enjoyed Christmas Dinner in our finery. The surprise guest was Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, complete with well-trained dog. After a lovely three course dinner, Father Christmas and his elf visited, distributing presents to us all - many thanks. We danced the night away with the resident DJ, Phil.

On Sunday, we went out separate ways after breakfast - a walk round the wildlife area at Gibraltar Point, Batemans Brewery and the RNLI station - again men and women who deserve our respect and thanks for what they do, especially as they are all volunteers. We observed the two minute silence whilst at the lifeboat station. The fund raising over the weekend was for the RNLI and £500 was raised during the weekend. Some of us went on to the Natureland Seal Sanctuary - and fell in love with the meerkats! We also watched the motocross action on the beach.

We met back at the hotel for tea and cake before the AGM. Later that evening, we enjoyed a Boxing Day buffet supper followed by games and bingo organised by Lucy and Janet. The hotel staff were fantastic and really got into the Christmas spirit, and the food was good and plentiful.

After breakfast on Monday, we said our goodbyes and left to go back to Avon, Ayrshire, Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon, Essex and Suffolk, Norfolk, North Warwickshire, Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Somerset, Wiltshire, Staffordshire, Sussex, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Yorkshire to recover for the Spring Weekend in Shropshire - looking forward to it Caroline and Robyn!

'Skegness? In November?? Turkey and Tinsel???' As Gill said at the AGM it had turned out to be a brilliant combination. Skegness maybe tacky, but it is fun; the weather was windy but mostly dry; and we all enjoyed an early Christmas!

See the photographs of the Autumn weekend in the gallery →

Spring Weekend - Isle of Wight

May 2nd, 2014

See our full report here


See the photographs of the Spring weekend in the gallery →

East Midlands Area Weekend - Viva Skeg Vegas

April 16th, 2014

The first official East Midlands Area weekend was held at the Savoy Hotel, Skegness in Lincolnshire from the 21stto the 23rd March 2014.


The weekend began with drinks before the evening meal and lots of catch up chit chat. When Maria did a head count, she realised John was missing - so she phoned him and he was planning to come the following weekend! He didn't fly over, but must have driven fairly quickly to make it for last orders. After the meal, some of the party then departed to a Karaoke bar - Country Link has stars in the making, especially Phil Ferris!

Saturday morning dawned and we were blessed with dry and sunny weather for our guided walk. This took us along the promenade and into the dunes at the south shore. The sea was calm and the eighty-plus wind turbines looked very impressive. We continued on around the town, hearing about the history of this popular east coast resort. Finally we arrived at the north end of Skegness for well earned refreshments.

Some of our hardy gang went off to play crazy golf. I wonder who got a hole in one and who took eight attempts at a hole? Others went to explore the town.


We had an early evening meal and then went on to an excellent musical show at the Embassy Theatre called Rock and Roll Paradise, starring Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley.

Sunday morning started with a hearty breakfast, followed by a photoshoot on David's balcony under the Country Link banner. Once the perfect shot had been achieved, it was a mad dash down to the lifeboat station to meet up with the shore crew as the lifeboat and the dinghy were out at sea being used for training purposes. We saw both boats brought back to the RNLI station, where they were given a washdown. We met Peter who gave us a guided tour of the inside and outside of the boat - these men - and women - deserve so much admiration for what they do. They are volunteers, who drop everything when the siren goes, and the whole service is funded by donations. We could have stayed there longer, but lunch was booked at the Royal Hotel - this was delicious! After lunch, we thanked Maria for a superb weekend, said our farewells and headed home. By this time it was raining …

Pat Bosworth, Tim and Michelle Robson


See the photographs of the East Midlands Weekend in the gallery →

Turn Back time to 2014

image001.jpg Our first full day at the Royal Renaissance Hotel began with Maria doing an 'all present and correct' headcount on the coach after breakfast. Then onto the farm walk where we savoured the Lincolnshire landscape. A very flat landscape with fertile soils, later described by our host as, 'a silty soil lying 5 metres above sea level'. The brassica crops grown are of very many varieties nowadays. Curly kale, more than one coloured sprouting broccoli, calabrese, as well as the traditional cabbage, brussel sprout and cauliflower. From Seed to Supermarket is the business run by the two Staples brothers, they have 16,000 acres in all growing brassicas, maize, leeks, courgettes and potatoes with a turnover over of £70,000,000 per year. Employing 1,000 people pus seasonal workers from other countries, our host said he relied on his outdoor workers as being very important to the business, for which he provides generous leisure facilities.

Keen to show off his anaerobic digester plant, our host tried to explain in simple terms what happens in this organic vegetable waste system which adheres to EEC ruling. Two 4,000 ton primary digesters are fed from five hoppers through mixing pots with 100 tons daily, like feeding a stomach. There is also a secondary and tertiary tank digester facility where gases (energy) are totally squeezed out of a bubble, a Scada system controls levels inside. Too much gas throughout the system is let off, controlled and the bubble evens it out.

Maize, blood, rye grass, sugar beet pulp, the system is not easily upset. Bio-gas is a useful by product for on site heating, electric energy conversion, heat energy into refrigeration and site industrial cleaning processes. Waste water from the heat exchangers at 600°C being converted for site use is a very noisy process. The residue waste is returned to the soil as fertiliser and the waste water is monitored by the Environment Agency at 50°C.

St. Botoloph's Church ('The Stump'), Boston.

Journeying on, we had a lunchtime visit booked at this venue which is the largest parish church in England. The church tower looks far too large to be of 'stump' dimensions. The foundations were laid in 1309 to a depth of 30 feet and took 100 years to build. Visibility from the very top of the tower at 272 feet, something only a steeplejack would ever see. Visibility from the second balcony at 197 feet takes an enormous 203 steps to get to. Many of our members paid £3.00 a go to climb those steps. The church has a total length 282 feet with a width of 100 feet. Our guides told us about the work and cost involved after the double surge tidal flood damage last spring.

By the end of the 13th century, Boston had become, like so many areas of fenland, prosperous through trading in wool through its ports, Boston being second only to London as a trading port. In 1643, the church was taken over by Oliver Cromwell as his garrison headquarters in the English Civil War period.

The church's 700 years as a place of worship 1309-2009 is marked with an inscribed slab in the nave floor paid for by the American friends of the church. Boston, Massachusetts was founded by the Pilgrim Fathers after sailing to the New World in 1620. Five men from the town became Governors of Boston, Mass. The Puritan era ended here when the then vicar, the Reverend John Cotton made his departure for Boston, Mass. in 1633 leaving a less rigid form of religion here.

image002.jpg image003.jpg

Gibralter Point Nature Reserve

Down the coast from our hotel, we had a Sunday appointment with Richard, the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust Warden. In near summer sunshine we followed our leader on a short walk circuit if the 1,000 acre site made up of muddy shores, sand dunes, salt marshes, grassland, scrubland, lagoons and ponds, not forgetting an extensive freshwater marsh, all carefully managed by the Trust. The site is recognised as being of international nature conservation interest.

Training and research is provided and shared by universities, schools and amateur naturalists. Habitats are managed by herds of Hebridian sheep and Dexter cattle. Flower meadows are cut down to make hay. On this morning of our visit the end of a spring surge period had seen a 7.2 metre high tide.

Prompt at 11.00am, it being Remembrance Sunday, it was suggested by our leader that we respect a two minute silence. In the quiet warmth, a skylark was skulking around nearby. Thought came to me of the WW1 soldiers and poets seeing the soaring flight of a skylark after fighting on some French battlefield.

Last springtime, the surging high tides damaged the Visitor Centre, a new one is planned for 2016. A marine conservation scheme has been applied for to protect the seals that live on the sand bars offshore.

Overall, the wardens' job is to monitor and record the wildlife, control predators and manage the habitat with the help of team building volunteers.

Tom Knox - Yorkshire Country Link

Weekend Reports Archive

2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013