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Newsletter 19: August 2012

Editor: Doug Chapman

From our Chairman


Alan Partridge

What a superb event we had at Wotton House, the Spring (Ha! Ha!) event. Sixteen members and spouses attended for "Dinner, Fellowship and of course a few drinks".

The food was excellent, but as usual, the meeting together in the lounge after dinner was the most rewarding. The following morning we attended the spiritual home of travel, Denbies Vineyard. We all learned how wine arrived on the table from grape to bottle. We were taught the finer things of wine making, but they could not teach us anything about drinking it. Most of us had lunch after the visit in the restaurant.

The special benefit of "Old Abtarians" is the pleasure of meeting friends at these meetings.

The whole event was nearly lost this year because of various difficulties experienced by the events committee, and it was only due to Doug taking it by the scruff of the neck and bringing this event to life. "THANK YOU DOUG". We do appreciate your effort especially as you were in the middle of travelling overseas on holiday.

Whilst the numbers were slightly down on usual we do have to consider the following facts. The date was later than usual and the lead in time was shorter. The economy is on its uppers and it is a long and expensive way to the South of England for many members. It does show tremendous commitment when so many still want to support this traditional "Spring" event.

I am hoping that we can announce next years destination much earlier and there are some places already being bandied around, such as York, for the railway museum, Betws-y-Coed, with a trip to the top of Snowden for lunch. We do need other suggestions, so please do make your ideas known to the events committee members.

We are still ready to accept new members - Do your bit in finding some new members as the very nature of our organisation means that we could be a diminishing group so the need to grow through "Youth" is essential. This is your "Old Abtarians" so do support it not only by attending, but by suggesting events, and nominating new members. Please do not go home after an event and then quickly forget "Old Abtarians" until another notice of an activity arrives.

Have a good, (tongue in cheek) Summer. And I hope to meet you all again at the AGM.

Alan

Dates for your Diary

The Twelfth Annual General Meeting will be held on Tuesday 23rd October at Porters Restaurant, 17 Henrietta Street, London WC2E 8QH. This will be followed by the Annual lunch.

The AGM is again being held somewhat later than usual this year to allow Members to attend the ABTA Travel Convention in Turkey at the Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort, Belek, Antalya from 9th - 12th October. Members delegate fees are at the ABTA Members level. Don't forget all fee levels go up on 13th August.

The Christmas Festive Lunch will take place as usual at the Oxford Thames Four Pillars Hotel on Tuesday 11th December.

Mary will be circulating details of each event closer to the time.

Slumming in Surrey

As the Chairman has said, we had a really memorable visit to Wotton House and Denbies' Vineyard (pictures to prove it below).

Wotton House is a very traditional English country mansion with many additions and alterations made over the centuries. It lies amongst beautiful rolling hills and has superb gardens. Its' prime function is as a Conference Centre, but it also takes individual hotel guests. Rooms are very comfortable and the food and wine in the restaurant is superb.

We had an extremely competitive all in price arranged by Superbreak, yet there were virtually no constraints on ordering from the inspiring dinner menu. In summary, it was a relaxing, comfortable and yet exclusive setting for both Old Abtarians (as well as young, go getting company executives) to relax and relate to each other.

The tour next day of Denbies' Wine Estate, to give it its' full title, was an eye opener for many of us. It lies just north of Dorking and was only created about thirty years ago, but has grown into the largest vineyard in England.

We learned all about the unique geology of the area (the same as Champagne country) and wine making techniques in a circular cinema, then rode around the winery on a slow moving people mover.

Then to the main item - the wine tasting. Our guide was a mature and extremely knowledgeable lady, pleasing and sometimes caustic, but very approachable and very proud of what Denbies' produced, especially that one of their sparkling wines was sipped by the Queen in the royal barge at her 60th Anniversary Thames Pageant.

Then to a road train for a tour of the vineyards, set in a spectacular valley amongst the North Downs. Unfortunately, low cloud and rain sometimes blurred the beauty of the scene!

Finally to an excellent lunch in their high level restaurant, before sniffing around the shop for a bottle or two and going our own ways.

Overall, a marvellous package arranged by Superbreak. It was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone present. Our thanks to them.

Miscellany

Old Abtarian Activities - don't forget the Chairman's request for suggestions about people or places able to offer some added value to Members' activities or other needs.

The Committee is considering whether flowers or other type of recognition should be sent by the Association on the death of Members.

They are also looking at insurance options for older Members.

ABTA have shown great support for the Association in again making a generous contribution towards the cost of the Annual Members Lunch.

Any Members who don't receive the ABTA Weekly News Release should contact a Committee Member. Equally, occasional visits to the main ABTA website will still bring you up to date on the issues of topical importance such as the "Fair tax on flying" campaign.

The Pictures