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Newsletter 21: July 2013

Editor: Doug Chapman

From our Chairman


Alan Partridge

Once again it is time for the latest edition of our newsletter. I must say at this stage we are, as an association, blessed by having a dedicated editor who keeps the publication running efficiently. Thanks Doug for this and the other things you do for us.

The latest activity was our visit to York for our spring lunch / dinner, as well as a committee meeting. This was once again a very successful event and it was so good to renew our friendships with one another.

I believe the numbers were slightly down on previous events which is a pity because our reason to exist is for friendship. It is only with continued coming together that this can be developed and enhanced.

The programme for the event was "Open" to do your own thing and I took the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with the Transport Committee. I had a very enjoyable time.

National Railway Museum to which Doug Chapman introduced me during one of the "Rail Safaris" to Scarborough whilst Chairman of the Surface

Although I have known York for many years from the time that I was a student in Bradford and its' history and architecture are impressive, but I am still more than happy that I live in the country.

Our next event is the AGM (see Dates for your Diary), followed by the traditional lunch. It is of the utmost importance that all members should attend, because the future of the Old Abtarians is discussed and there could be suggestions concerning the constitution. The future of the organisation is in your hands and the programme is similarly in your hands. Do come to the AGM and let us have the benefit of your input.

Our Christmas Lunch is once again being held at the Four Pillars Hotel in Oxford on 10 December. More details nearer the time.

The delightful Candida is organising our social calendar in the future and I am sure she would be grateful for your input.

I look forward to meeting you all again and to another first class year in the life of the Old Abtarians.

My best wishes to you all. Keep safe.

Alan

The York Event

Alan has given his own personal perspectives of the visit. Unfortunately, I cannot add anything because Veronica and I had to pull out at short notice. However, my thanks to Mary Cooke and Richard English, who have kindly set down their impressions and to Brian Cooke for photos.

First, Mary.

At the end of April, fifteen Old Abtarians gathered in York for the Spring break. Initial scepticism of the Novotel being a rather faceless city centre hotel was soon dissipated by the quality of the food and of the service given by the staff.

Members met for dinner on day one and news was exchanged well into the night. Comparisons of the industry as it was and as it is were inevitable and, of course, who is where now. Good gossip was the order of the night and much enjoyed it was.

Small groups were organised the next day. There was nothing but praise for the York Castle Museum with its Victorian streets, etc. The Chairman and Stuart Wilde headed for the Railway Museum while the Cookes set off for the steam train on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Do we detect a theme here?

New member Roger Waterfall joined the group for dinner that evening and we hope to see him at next year's event. As we left Stuart said the venue was an inspired choice! Was the Railway Museum an influence?

And now Richard's portrayal

I almost didn't make this trip since, on 10 April, I fell down two flights of stairs at Horsham Station and broke a rib, collar bone and shoulder blade, plus tearing various muscles. The consultant at the hospital said I was "lucky" which, I suppose, in one way I was since there was nothing that time wouldn't heal. Anyway, as I had already arranged to travel to York by train I decided to make the best of it and I am glad I did.

For the outward journey we travelled Grand Central, which was a very comfortable service with plenty of first class accommodation and a complimentary light meal. The train arrived dead on time and the experience was a very enjoyable one. For our return we travelled East Coast and that was not so good. Only one first class carriage and that was crowded, with standard class passengers occupying first class seats. They were moved by the conductor who explained that there had been a problem with the booked train and this was a substitute of fewer carriages. Maybe a bad experience for them but I would probably choose Grand Central in future.

We elected to walk from the station to the Novotel which was an easy enough - if rather breezy - 20 minute amble. The biggest problem was actually locating the hotel and, having located it, getting across the formula-one race-track that the residents of York call a bypass.

The hotel was good although, possibly typical of any French hotel, the food was excellent and the beer terrible. York has many breweries close to it - and one actually in the city - but the Novotel had nary a single one on draught-although bottles of Black Sheep were available to slake what otherwise would have been a very bad thirst. The very nice Lithuanian barmaid suggested that they couldn't stock local beers "... as they were an international hotel group.." And if you believe that you'll believe that Fosters is good beer or that Piat D'or is good wine.

York is a grand place to wander around once you get inside the race-track and we had a very pleasant lunch at the House of the Trembling Madness, which I described in my Trip Adviser review of 01 May as "Quirky but unforgettable".

We took time away from the OAs to have an evening meal with our niece, who is studying at York university. The nearby Thai restaurant was closed, but serendipity saw us at the front door of the Mumbai Lounge which, as I mentioned in my Trip Advisor report of 01 May, was one of the finest Indian restaurants I have ever visited.

So, another very enjoyable OA event - although it might have been better had a few more joint events have been arranged in advance. Although there are many benefits of "doing one's own thing" if you travel with a common interest group, then there is some merit in doing things together. But nevertheless a very enjoyable break and I am looking forward to our next one -maybe at the ABTA Convention in Dubrovnik this October.

Old Abtarians Member Offers

Members can obtain a 15% discount off all Superbreak products by calling 0871 2213636 and identifying yourself as an Old Abtarian.

Fred Olsen Cruises regularly make exceptional offers through their Friends and Family programme. All Members should receive details by email.

All Members registered with Travel Industry Services (TIS) are entitled to a range of industry offers for cruises, hotels, packages, etc. Veronica and I recently used their services for a Baltic Cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines. Booking was easy and the cruise was highly enjoyable and excellent value.

Dates for your Diary

The Fourteenth Annual General Meeting and Member's Lunch will be at Porters Restaurant, 17 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8QH on Tuesday 24th September, 2013.

The Christmas Lunch will be at the Oxford Thames Four Pillars Hotel, Sandford on Thames. On Tuesday 10th December. Timings and full details of both events will be circulated in due course.

The Pictures