I woke up at 5am on Sunday 24th July, having left the curtains open so as to get the light of dawn, and got up soon afterwards, turning off the alarms which had been set for 6am. This took a lot of time pressure off for my ablutions, breakfast and final packing.
Julie and Mike Berger arrived as arranged at 7.15. I gave them a jar of honey and a fiver for fuel and they drove me to Jan Stuart’s near Newton Poppleford in Devon in plenty of time, arriving at 8.30.
After a cup of tea, Jan’s hubby drove us to Exeter airport going through the security rigmarole. After last year’s experience, when I had to empty it, I had given my hip flask to Jan to go into the hold in her big suitcase. I was travelling light with my small bag in the rack. They confiscated my mouthwash as the bottle was too big although it was almost empty!
There was only a short wait in the lounge, where we met up with Chris Utting from N.Devon and the Elliotts who come from Launceston in Cornwall. Then we went through to the Departure Lounge, Jan and Chris taking turns to carry my case as I was struggling with crutches due to my broken leg.
After a brief sit down it was time to get on the plane where there was a longer wait. My seat was 9b and I was sat next to an Irish lass with whom I had a convivial conversation. As usual, I was the only one to applaud the hostesses after their performance with life jackets etc.
Usually I prefer a window seat but would have been disappointed this year as there was solid cloud all the way. The flight was uneventful and we landed safely and I managed to get down the stairs without falling. We made our way through the maze to where Jan and Chris’ suitcases were to be collected.
We went out through the car park to the bus stops and found that they had been shuffled. Eventually we found the right one, No. 101, and it left at noon, getting us to the Huntsman at about 12.35.
We went in and had a light lunch of soup and soda bread. I had a bottle of Guinness off the shelf and raised my glass to Dave Cushman with whom, over the years, I had drunk many gallons, over the road at The Cock (oldest pub in Ireland) which is now closed and up for sale. Dave used to ring them the week before Gormanston to warn them that we were coming so they could stock up as, one year, they ran out of Guinness mid-week!
I had arranged with Micheal Gleeson that I would ring him for a lift to the College from the Huntsman but, as the weather was fine and my suitcase was being towed by others, I walked it on my crutches, the furthest I’d walked since breaking the leg. There were no problems.
We got over the stile to the playing field and found there was a fair in progress. We could have got burgers there for lunch!
We booked in and were given name badges etc. I had Room WW33: two floors up in the lift and then just around the corner. It had a pair of bunks, desk, toilet and shower with a view over the front lawn, yew cloisters and golf course. I took photos.
I went down and checked the bees in the castle wall. They were flying vigorously. Then I walked down the yew cloister as far as the cemetery.It started to rain so I went back to my room and unpacked, then went down to the lounge to write these notes with my leg up.
Lots of people greeted me; Maraid, last year’s Honey Queen, with a hug, Ettamarie with a different grand daughter than last time: Kristie.
That’s enough for now. There will be lots more to come in installments including summaries of the lectures