Saturday, 3 October 2009

The Long Service Award Ceremony

Retirement round the corner?

I’m writing this in retrospect,  as in it’s all about yesterday. I mean Friday, which in fact only finished this morning at 3.30am. So to get things in perspective it’s not retrospective at all. Good, I’m glad we’ve got that cleared up then.

What did I forget? The blasted CAMERA! I charged it up on Thursday, specially for the big night out on Friday and left it in full view. Certain in the knowledge that I’d notice it the following day. But in my haste to pack all those dresses and other necessities the camera went unnoticed, and that’s before any alcohol had been consumed.

So we set ourselves a very pleasant “itinerary” for the BIG day which changed a bit, but for the better.

At about mid-day: We set off, and after being stuck in heavy traffic for over an hour went to Barton Grange garden centre for a nosy round and a cup o’ tea. Then we wandered across the car park (in the rain), to the entrance of the new Barton Grange marina on the Lancaster Canal.

So we played the role of gongoozlers for a change, as for the verdict on the marina itself. It can be summed up as desolate, isolated, bare with a distinct lack of facilities. No wonder there were only 9 boats on it then. Oh dear.

At about 2pm: After our little excursion we went back to the garden centre, had a nosy round and stayed for some lunch.

At about 3pm: We went to check in at the (very posh) Barton Grange Hotel, just 2 miles further down the road near Garstang. When we got to reception it came as a surprise to discover that we hadn’t actually got a room inside the hotel itself?

We were in what’s appealingly called “The Cottage” situated across the other end of the car park, which had all of 6 rooms. We thought we’d have a cottage to ourselves but alas not.

So we immediately assumed this was where they stashed all the rabble, you know, “out of sight, out of mind” and all that. What with about a half mile walk across the car park to get to the main hotel it wasn’t ideal. But it was ever so thoughtful of them to provide us with golfing brollies in the little hallway. Personally I was hoping for a golfing CART to come and collect us. But then again this was all a big freebee so one can’t complain too much can one?

At about 3.30pm: We got ourselves settled in and went for a wander. The plan was to find the hotel pool, go for a swim, then head for the Jacuzzi, (I kid ye not). But we left our swimming stuff in the room because we were just sussing the place out right? It took us ages to find the pool (yes we were following the signs and not wandering around aimlessly) so then what? Should we go back, grab our stuff and dive in, or get ready for the big night?

At about 4pm: As we were heading back to “The Cottage” we bumped into Charlie, a good friend of Dave’s, he was also there for the BAE Systems Long Service Awards Dinner. (Ahem, full title). Turns out he and his wife were also stashed away in “The Cottage” with us degenerates. Well that was it, decision made, we went and sat in the bar with both of them for a drinky poos, so we could all get to know each other. Forget the pool, have a drink and chill out!

At about 5.30pm: We went to get ready, by this time I’d made up my mind about which dress, but no camera = no photo, except:

At about 7.30pm: When the 4 of us arrived (on time) in the foyer, there was a professional photographer taking photos of every couple together. The one she took of us 2 was stunning, even though the trek across the car park to get there had played mayhem with me hairdo, no (h)airbrushing required. So I’ll post that photo when we get it, (if) we get it – knowing our luck it’ll get misplaced.

Once in the reception area we were greeted with Champagne so we could all do a bit of highly important social networking. Like me & Charlie’s wife weighing up who was going to be first to trip up over their dress on the dance floor. There were a few candidates.

At about 8pm: We had to check out which table we were sat at before going in --- turned out ours was Number 1. So I called it the “Top Table” and wasn’t far wrong because we only had the Host Himself, one of the company’s top lawyers with us, & he was seated right next door to ME, why me? Out of over 100 people it had to be yours truly here. Anyway the meal was lovely, and afterwards the Host Himself (my neighbour to the right) read out the names of every long service member. Each one of them had to stand up when they heard their name and got a separate round of applause, it made me feel so PROUD of my man.

Each “lady” (yes, including me) got a fancy little box with chocolates inside to take home, and each long service member got a book called "Triplane to Typhoon." (A complete history of planes built by BAE from the start to the present day), very interesting. Dave went and got his signed by the top bod too.

At about 9.30pm: The disco started, we all had to start off with the YMCA thing with the arms, plus a few other songs that made you feel like you were playing Twister. Then we sat down, had our last round of FREE drinks (so we ordered 2 each, he he) then the Host Himself went home --- to file some papers? I felt a bit sorry for him really, missing out on all the fun stuff when the party was just about to start. Or maybe it was because he was sat next to me? Couldn’t be, I was politeness and sophistication itself. Whilst whispering to Dave get me out of here!

Well I danced my feet off & really enjoyed it, oh did we have some fun or what? Great night…


Moving swiftly on to TODAY…

At about 1am: It all wound up, but 6 of us were still sat there having a laugh till…

At about 2am: We were politely asked to move into the hotel bar downstairs – so we did, and they had to open it up just for us so the conversation & laughter continued…

At about 3am: We were all well and truly pie-eyed, decided we’d better get some sleep seeing as breakfast was 8am – 10am which gave us 6 hours tops…

At about 3.10am: We got back to our room and decided a coffee might be a good idea…

At about 3.12am: Dave opened the fancy cabinet that concealed the kettle, cups and all the usual stuff. He thought it was a drawer that pulled out on runners (with a stopper). But it was just a big tray. We only had one small lamp on at the time, and in the half light the whole lot crashed to the floor, both cups smashed around him,, he just stood there and said “Oh.”

At about 3.13am: I was HOWLING LAUGHING, I mean holding my stomach and rolling round the bed kind of laughing, it was like a scene out of Fawlty Towers. And “Basil” there made it worse by turning to me and saying “Shush,” then turning back round picking up the wreckage while tittering to himself. I mean I could see his shoulders going up and down – and that just makes me WORSE.

Then he suggested we make a brew and drink it out of the tea-pot because it was the only thing still intact. Oh my can you beat this or what? You can’t take us anywhere. During all the time he spent picking up the bits, NEITHER of us even thought to switch a proper light on and he cut his finger, so we had to find a plaster too. No wonder they put us away from the main hotel, I mean there’s always 6 isn’t there?

At about 3.30am: After slowly gaining some modicum of self control I went into the bathroom and immediately lost it again when the top of the tap, where it says HOT fell off. I noticed it was on the "brink of falling in the sink" hours earlier when we were getting ready. So I’m sure it would’ve fallen off for anyone else too, well, almost sure. By this time I was thinking perhaps the bed would collapse while we were sleeping soundly.

At about 3.40am: Crawled into bed and COULDN’T SLEEP, so we tossed & turned till…

Precisely 8.30am: The “wake up call” [Oh no, not already].

At about 9.45am: We both sat in the Breakfast room like a couple of zombies trying to eat something, I mean we knew we should, but YUK.

At about 10.50am: Checked out.

At about 10.51am: Dave admitted to accidentally breaking 2 cups and was told it didn’t matter at all, (phew).

At about 11am: Arrived back to the boat, and both fell asleep till about an hour ago when we each woke up with a banging headache.

So in retrospect, hindsight maybe it was a good job we forgot the camera. After all a photo posted in all innocence on the blog, with an overly tipsy BAE manager teetering about in the background might not go down very well the next day, along with anything else for that matter…

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