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Newsletter 13: July 2009

Editor: Doug Chapman

From our Chairman

Paul Cresswell

I am writing this copy whilst the sun is blazing down, which of course bodes ill for the travel Industry, as particularly in these troubled times everyone will be thinking of staying at home, but as they say it never rains but pours so we soldier on.

We had a super Spring lunch which was very well attended and there were both old and new faces, and it was very nice to see Peter Hayward in good spirits. Further details elsewhere in the Newsletter.

We have as expected heard from A.B.T.A. that although Mark Tanzer will be with us at our A.G.M they will not unfortunately be able to host us for Dinner due to lack of catering facilities,. However they have kindly offered to help us fund an alternative venue so we will let you know where we will be holding both the A.G.M and the usual Dinner on the 25th of Sept.

We look forward to hearing from Mark and also John McEwan as to the way forward for A.B.T.A and how they are operating in these difficult times so please make sure you can make it to the A.G.M.

We are getting pretty good offers from Fred Olsen for Friends and Family so don't miss the opportunity of a wonderful cruise at rock bottom rates.

Looking forward to seeing you all on the 25th September if not before.

The People Place

As most of you will know, sadly Bryan Moreton passed away in February. He will be greatly missed in the Old Abtarians and there are further remembrances of Bryan in the notes of the Spring Lunch.

On behalf of the committee, Mary Cooke has agreed to become the prime contact with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines. To underline her commitment, she immediately dragged Brian off to circumnavigate the British Isles aboard the Black Watch.

But the best news of all is from Peter Hayward (hiding behind a branch in the group picture!), whose recent CAT scan showed him free from cancer. In his own words ................. "Yippee!"

News Items

As our Chairman mentioned, ABTA recently elected a new Chairman. He is John McEwan who is Chief Executive of Advantage and formerly of Thomas Cook.

His election reflects two significant changes - from President to Chairman and, for the first time, he was elected by the whole membership.

We wish John all success in leading the affairs of ABTA and congratulate him on becoming an Honorary Member of the Old Abtarians!

And our thanks to former President, Justin Fleming, for his warm support of the Old Abtarians.

For your Diary

The AGM and Members Dinner will be on Friday 25th September and as Paul has explained, we have to await further details about the venue.

The Christmas Lunch will be on 15th December. The venue will again be The Oxford Thames Four Pillars Hotel at Sandford on Thames and again this time we will be having the reception drinks on the ground floor.

Roger plans to send out full details in September, but do keep both dates clear.

A boating we will go!

Prolonged April showers threatened to slip into May. Then as Tuesday the fifth of May dawned, overnight rain and heavy cloud were swept away by a brisk breeze to bestow long periods of welcome Spring sunshine on Stratford upon Avon.

Gradually, Old Abtarians sauntered onto the quay by Waterside and assembled there to greet old friends and stand and chat awhile until the Countess of Evesham was made ready for our welcome.

Clearly the Bard was smiling down on the elders of the travel world, even though he never had much desire for their business. Apparently the commute from Stratford to London was more than enough for him; "when I was at home, I was in a better place". Hardly a clarion call for the travel business.

However, he did famously link travel to good grub "why, then the world's mine oyster" and fine cuisine was on everybody's mind as the members, spouses, partners and friends stepped eagerly aboard the boat and into the luxurious interior with white linen tables made ready for lunch.

Sipping from a welcoming glass, everyone absorbed the scene and idled amongst friends to continue with their gossip.

At the risk of overdoing the Shakespeare analogies, odd sentences wafting over our heads could easily have been echoes of his age.

"cannot tell what the dickens his name is"

"True it is that we have seen better days"

"This is the long and the short of it"

"But for my part, it was Greek to me"

"I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it"

With which sentiments our Chairman, Paul Cresswell, welcomed all aboard. In particular, he wanted us to remember Bryan Moreton and reminded us how appropriate it was to be afloat as we thought about him. Bryan's great passion was for the sea and ships.

Colin Brain then gave a moving tribute to Bryan, stressing both his work as Chairman of the Shipping Committee and his active support in the foundation of the Old Abtarians. Bryan's widow, Avril, and his daughter, Julie, were most welcome guests. And so the afternoon passed extremely agreeably. It was a very tranquil passage, slipping slowly down the River Avon. Any sinking feelings were due solely to the transit of occasional locks. An excellent lunch was served, wine flowed and the food was delicious.

Half way through the trip, we landed for a few minutes to exercise underused legs, take a brief stroll and pose for the photographers amongst us to record the day.

As a sequel to the river trip, on the following day a number of members were warmly welcomed to lunch at the home of Don and Carol Ward.

All in all, a very civilised and fabulous occasion. Many thanks to Roger Lambert for putting together such an inspired event as well as negotiating an excellent overnight package at the Barcelo Walton Hotel.

Old Abtarians Travel Benefits

From lunch on the Avon to dinner near the Bogside is far away in both time and experience. But such contrasts are the very essence of travel. Recently, Veronica and I stayed at the City Hotel, Londonderry. An excellent four star hotel on the banks of the Foyle and within five minutes of a stroll right round the ancient city walls.

Tormented, but now healing, attractive and fascinating, Derry is quite safe to visit. It is a great centre with much of the scenic Donegal and Antrim coastline within about an hour's drive.

And the best rate at the City Hotel was the Old Abtarian deal with Superbreak!

Pictures are better than words

Most of the Group ashore with some happy faces on board