On Friday 3rd November Ayrshire Country Link welcomed members from across the UK to the Riverside Lodge Hotel in Irvine.
Along with the welcome packs members received a small recipe book and a t-shirt courtesy of Quality Meat Scotland, Tunnocks goodies, RSABI pens and a choice of a small furry sheep or cow.
On Friday evening the fancy dress competition was held, along with a buffet supper and a disco. The fancy dress winners were Charlotte Shelly from Staffordshire (dressed as a mermaid) for the ladies' prize, John Greasley from Nottinghamshire (dressed as Charlie Chaplin) for the men's prize. The couple's prize was won by Peter Hunt and Lorna Griffin, also from Nottinghamshire, who were dressed as Mary Poppins and her chimney sweep friend Bert.
After breakfast on Saturday morning there was a choice of trips with the visit to Dumfries House being the most popular. Drew Kerr kept us well entertained with his stories whilst on the coach on the way to Dumfries House. A large busload of members visited Girvan Mains Farm, courtesy of the Young family where we heard about their various farming enterprises, and saw their biodigester set-up. After lunch we travelled to Strandhead Farm, Tarbolton, courtesy of the Veitch family to see their dairy set-up and their concrete business, Ve-Tech Concrete. The third trip was to Robert Burns Museum and cottage with a guided tour along the Ayrshire coast in the afternoon.
Dumfries House was purchased by a consortium led by (the then) Prince Charles in 2007 and is now part of the Prince's Foundation. It has a magnificent collection of furniture and several clocks. The clocks made some noise when they all started chiming at 11.00 am! After the guided tour of the house there was time to explore the grounds, have a cuppa and a bite to eat in the café and to visit the gift shop. Moving on from Dumfries House this group travelled on to the Heritage Centre in Cumnock. There was an enormous collection of vintage memorabilia here. From telephones to milk churns, fairground equipment, a panda car, fire engines and tractors. Much of it was from the 1950's and 60's and many of the members could remember far too many of the exhibits from their childhood!
We all arrived back at the hotel late afternoon and dressed up for the formal dinner dance in the evening. Gregor Caldwell, RSABI, explained about the charity and the fantastic work it does supporting and assisting rural people. A raffle was held raising money for RSABI and MS Scotland. Members enjoyed the disco, the evening coming to a close with the dancing of the Gay Gordons.
On Sunday, after another good breakfast, we set off on more trips. A couple of these trips were limited in numbers so only the early bookers could be guaranteed their first choice of trip. The trip to Jim Goldie's horse racing stables was one of these and proved to be a popular choice. Two strings of four horses each were brought onto the all-weather gallops for a training session, we then had a tour round the stables. Jim Goldie trains horses for flat racing and had his most successful year in 2022. After leaving the stables a coffee (and cake!) stop was made at Caldwell Golf Club, it was a chance for us to have a seat and a blether.
Other visits on Sunday included the RNLI at Troon and a visit to the Maritime Museum in Irvine, again these were popular visits. At the RNLI members saw round the equipment room, the D class inshore lifeboat, and were on board the Trent class all weather lifeboat. During the visit to RNLI £308 was donated to this fantastic charity.
At the Maritime Museum members had a guided tour of a 1920's tenement flat, a fitting shed, and then explored the maritime heritage collection in the building and also outside.
Later in the afternoon the Member's Meeting took place and was well attended, the weekend baton was handed over by Kirsteen to Robyn Heath of Shropshire.
On Sunday evening we had another buffet supper, then entertainment which included a quiz, guessing the items in 'feely' bags and rolling a pound coin to win a bottle of whisky which was won by Richard Rymer from Yorkshire.
Following breakfast on Monday morning members started to make their way home. Many had made a longer break by either stopping off on the way up to Scotland or on the way home.
RSABI Christmas cards were on sale during the weekend, the sales of which raised £110 for the charity. A big thank you to members for their kind donations.
The weather was great throughout the weekend which helped to show Ayrshire at its best, 92 members stayed at the hotel, with another 12 members from Ayrshire joining us for the Saturday evening meal.
We hope you all enjoyed the weekend and look forward to seeing many of you in Telford in May 2024.
This Spring the Essex & Suffolk, and Norfolk, Country Link groups joined forces to welcome members from across the country to Knights Hill Hotel, Ling's Lynn.
On the Friday afternoon, after booking into the Hotel, there was time to relax and get ready for the evening's fancy dress party with buffet meal and disco, during which prizes were awarded for the best male, female, and group fancy dress costumes, (the theme this time was kings, queens, and rulers due to the coronation).
On Saturday several organised bus trips went out for the day, visiting:
The buses arrived back at the hotel in time to give us a chance to rest again before the black-tie gala dinner and disco. This included a raffle to raise money for Parkinson's UK.
On Sunday 4 more outings set off to visit Houghton Hall, a trip to Bawsey Pits, a coastal walk for the fit (including a paddle in the sea for the brave - or even stupid! - amongst us) and a guided tour around King's Lynn. Members are encouraged to drive themselves and/or to car share on the Sunday
Sunday evening was a quieter affair, with a buffet meal and quiz night. Each table had a picture quiz to fill in after the meal swapping their answer sheets with the adjacent table for answers to be marked. The winning table were given a large box of Kings coronation chocolates to share amongst themselves and the losing table won a packet of salad seeds each.
This was followed by a game of heads and tails where everyone stands up and gives £1 for the charity pot and a series of questions are asked each with a choice of 2 answers. One answer requires you to put your hands on your head the other on your bottom. People who select the wrong answer have to sit down until only one person is standing. Their prize was a large box of jelly babies. The final fund-raising event was rolling for the bottle of whiskey in which a bottle of whiskey was placed on one side of the dance floor and you had to roll/slide a pound coin from the other side of the floor the person nearest at the end wins the whiskey. (These two events raised a further £110).
On Monday we said our good-byes and checked out of the hotel to wend our way home, to recover, and wait for the Autumn weekend in Scotland.
To sum up everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend in a super hotel and we raised £699 for the Parkinson's UK charity.
It was a lovely sunny afternoon as seventy members of Country Link arrived at the Knight's Hill Hotel just outside King's Lynn. The hotel and grounds cover a large area, and there was plenty of parking for everyone. The downstairs rooms had a patio area with a table and chairs, and the upstairs rooms had balconies. There was a pool and gym too, for those who were feeling energetic!
We enjoyed a buffet on Friday night, with a particularly good disco - the DJ knew the sort of music we liked and lots of people were up and dancing. The theme for the fancy dress was King's, Queens, Emperors, and Dictators. The winners were Liz G from Derbyshire as the late Queen (well, she did live just down the road!), Tony P from Essex and Suffolk, and newcomers Margaret and David from Derbyshire.
Following an excellent buffet breakfast on Saturday morning, we went on the trips. Those who went to Snettisham Farm Park were able to feed the deer - who ate the paper bags too! They also enjoyed an impromptu talk about the bees there, before going to visit Norfolk Lavender. The trip to Spalding was interesting, with lots to see. Paul from Essex and Suffolk led an interesting seven mile walk which included a nature reserve and a castle; I hear that Paul is very clever at identifying different birds by their songs. The trip to Oxburgh Hall was interesting, with a guided tour of the outside of the house, and then we viewed the house itself. There was a nearby church which had been partially destroyed when the spire had collapsed in the 1940s. The sandstone carvings were amazing. Then followed a visit to Stowe Gardens - lots to see there, and beautifully maintained.
After getting back to the hotel, members had the chance to relax, chat or enjoy the pool or gym before smartening up for the formal dinner. A raffle was held to raise money for Parkinson's UK during the evening, and there were plenty of prizes to be won. The meal was followed by a disco.
On Sunday morning, members went on a variety of trips: on a guided walking tour of King's Lynn, to Houghton Hall, Sandringham Estate (as the new King and Queen were in residence, they were not able to go to the House), Bawsey Country Park, and Paul led another walk, this time along the coast. The sun came out and I enjoyed a paddle - ankle depth was enough as the water was cold!
The Annual General Meeting was held on Sunday afternoon, and this included the elections:
Chairman - Peter Hunt, Nottinghamshire
Vice Chairman - Dick Stephens, Oxfordshire
Treasurer - Lesley Sheaf, Oxfordshire
Secretary - Liz Goodwin, Derbyshire
Sunday finished with a buffet meal followed by various games, including a photo quiz, dingbats, roll the coin, and heads and tails.
After breakfast on Monday, members made their way home. Many thanks to Jane, Jenny, and Tony for all their hard work in organising a brilliant weekend, and we look forward to seeing everyone again in Irvine in November.