2012 Annual Gathering - Shrewsbury13th-15th April 2012
Our evening swung into action with a meet-and-greet reception in the Darwin Suite and the chance to browse round Ray and Colin’s tempting selection of books for sale, then down to the Royalist Restaurant for a wonderful buffet supper. The evening’s entertainment, ably hosted by Mike McGarry, included an illustrated round-up of the past year’s events, plus the photographic competition, but I suspect the highlight for many was a spoof version of Star Wars, starring members of the Saville Society.
Saturday saw one party set off by coach for a guided walk around Ludlow. The others took the train to Craven Arms. The line from Shrewsbury to Marshbrook (‘Onnybrook’ in the Lone Pine books) is the one the Mortons travelled on their first visit to Witchend. An energetic walk from Craven Arms to Onibury (another inspiration for Onnybrook) and back, meeting up with the Ludlow group at the Secret Hills Discovery Centre.
We lunched here on a splendid selection of sandwiches, savouries, cakes and fruit before travelling back to Shrewsbury by train or coach. In the evening, we enjoyed a formal ‘fabulous feast’ at the Prince Rupert, followed by the presentation of awards and the dreaded Malcolm Saville Quiz, which certainly gave our brain cells a workout!
Sunday dawned bright and sunny again – we really were lucky with the weather over the weekend – and the morning was taken up by the AGM. Sunday afternoon we drove out to Hamperley Farm (the model for Ingles Farm in the books), on the lower slopes of the beautiful Long Mynd. Hamperley’s owner, Chris Foulkes, accompanied by Sally the dog, kindly walked us round his fields and woods, showing us the newly set hedges and the new born lambs, We saw the pond he had made, and heard about his plans for attracting more wildlife. We were even lucky enough to go inside the farmhouse – now being renovated – and see the kitchen where Mrs Ingles welcomed the Twins and was often busy with her cooking.
At teatime, there was another treat in store. We walked down the lane to Cwm Head, where Malcolm Saville used to attend the Church of St Michael and All Angels when he stayed at Cwm Head House. The lovely little church was decorated with spring flowers, and local residents welcomed us in to a magnificent home made tea; sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, Hamperley sausages on sticks, and iced cakes that were almost too pretty to eat. As we filled the pews, one of ladies played the harmonium, and we enjoyed the music, warmth and friendliness as well as the delicious food. Altogether, a very happy Gathering. Thanks to all who organized it, and helped to make it special.
West Somerset - The Quantock Hills8th-10th June 2012
This was a most enjoyable weekend with 18 members attending despite gale force winds and rain on Friday.
On Saturday the weather turned fair and we enjoyed a walk over the Quantocks enabling us to draw a comparison between the Somerset and Shropshire hills. The walk was enlivened by a series of readings from an as yet unpublished Lone Pine story set in Somerset, provided by Colin Harding!
Sunday was a more leisurely day, including a steam ride on the West Somerset Railway. It would have been even nicer without the rain.
Throughout the event, members gathered in Taunton to enjoy evening meals and convivial company.
Ely - Early Autumn in the Fens28th-30th September 2012
This weekend had been planned to celebrate The Luck of Sallowby that was set in the Fens and published 60 years ago. We explored parts of fenland that featured dramatically in the book where the story was based on the severe floods of 1947. The programme was designed to suit cyclists, walkers and others who just like meeting up for for a social occasion. It was also modular, enabling members who were unable to attend for the whole weekend, to come along and enjoy part of it. Best of all, the event was blessed by fine weather throughout.
Our first rendezvous on Friday evening was The Lamb Hotel at Ely, for an informal supper followed by the showing of clips from a DVD called The Winter of '47. This was a locally-produced documentary, made in 2007 to mark the 60th anniversary of the floods, and it contains some fascinating archive footage filmed at the time.
On Saturday the energetic cycling contingent completed a route from Wicken Fen to Ely whilst the more leisurely 'tourists' enjoyed conducted tours of Oliver Cromwell's House and the cathedral, before both parties met up for a picnic lunch on Ely's riverside. Then as the cyclists set out for the return trip, the tourists visited The Fen Drainage Museum at Prickwillow where the highlight was a demonstration run of a pumping engine that had actually been in use in 1947. In the evening, both parties met up for drinks and a meal at Ely's award-winning Cutter Inn and Riverside Restaurant.
Sunday's programme included the option of a lie-in before driving straight to the pub for lunch but commendably, no-one chose it. Thus it was that over 30 of us met up at Downham Market and walked the Fen Rivers Way to Denver Sluice where the man-made Bedford Rivers re-join the Great Ouse. The sinister Anglers' Rest in The Luck of Sallowby (where one of the teenage heroes was taken after being abducted) was possibly modelled upon an earlier building where the modern Jenyn's Arms is now situated, and this is where we enjoyed our carvery lunch.
Lewes Bonfire Weekend3rd-5th November 2012
Sadly, this event was cancelled!