A Weekend North of the Border
A weekend in Glasgow? Some were sceptical, but it was Scotland's "turn" to host the Spring AGM Weekend again and Edinburgh had already been the chosen venue way back in 1994. Locations further north had to be abandoned on account of the distance and cost involved in traveling. However, there were others who had never been to Glasgow and, now that it had lost much of its former poor image, were keen to see what the city now had to offer.
The weekend began on Friday 13th May: the organisers were hoping that no-one was superstitious! Members and guests began to arrive from late morning onwards. It was not possible to greet all the arrivals but we did our best to see that someone was in or around the reception area, particularly in the afternoon. Those who had driven were more anxious about the possibility of there being a parking space left (as we had been advised that these were limited to thirty cars) than they were about finding their room.
As well as driving to Glasgow people came by train, coach and air. Glasgow is well served for all these modes of transport, having two airports and two railway stations. Participants duly checked in at the AOUG desk downstairs in the Buchanan Suite, collected their information packs, bought tickets for the Saturday night raffle, then unpacked and set off singly or in twos and threes to explore. It was not possible to organise a group visit anywhere due to the differences in time of arrivals. The Gallery of Modern Art and the shopping precincts were the favourites for the first day as they were close by and it was easy to find the way back to the hotel.
Over a drink in the bar before dinner, members met up with old acquaintances or introduced themselves to people they had never met. In true AOUG style everyone was soon chatting and swapping stories of what a day they had had thus far. With a delicious meal under our belts it was time to turn to the quiz, which has now become a regular feature of the Spring Weekend. Questions set by Dave Etchell, the Quiz Master, ranged from so-called SATs level through to the Genius level and proved challenging or downright impossible for some. Not for all though, because the results showed there to be much knowledge and scholarship around the tables. The quiz was finally won by the "Caledonians". It came as no surprise to some that Paul Emerson and Alan Lascelles, previous AOUG winners, were part of this team. They were joined this time by Val Bradbury from Scotland. Congratulations to them and well done to all who participated in the fun.
After a leisurely breakfast on the Saturday morning it was back to the Buchanan Suite at 10am for the Annual General Meetings and the Open General Meeting. In the afternoon a group left by train to visit the Burrell Collection - paintings, sculpture and objets d'art, situated in the Pollock Country Park, south of the city. Meanwhile an informal discussion group, led by the Vice-Chairman, debated issues of importance. They talked through varying strategies which might ensure the continuation of the Association. The mood was one of extreme optimism.
After the meeting many of us took the open-top sightseeing bus tour of Glasgow. It was a welcome change from being in a meeting room all day and we were afforded marvelous views of Glasgow City Chambers, the Cathedral, the Science Centre, the People's Palace, Clyde Auditorium, known affectionately as the Armadillo and the River Clyde itself. Some of us took afternoon tea at the Willow Tea Rooms designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and marvelled at the beautiful setting from a bygone age.
The evening began with drinks at the Civic Reception. The Association was pleased to welcome as our guests Baillie Stephen Dornan, deputising for the Lord Provost of Glasgow, and his wife Fay, and also our speaker, Mr Robert Brown, MSP for Glasgow, who gave us an insight into, and a better appreciation of, the workings of the Scottish Parliament. We thank them again, for being able to be present at our Gala Dinner and for giving up their time to help us celebrate our spring Weekend.
After the raffle had been drawn we were entertained by Iain Anderson's ceilidh band, "The Reel Thing" when many of us were enticed onto the floor to indulge in some Scottish dancing. For those with any energy still left there was disco dancing until midnight. Everyone agreed that it had been an excellent evening.
Sunday morning was spent packing our belongings and saying our farewells. Some of us had an early train or plane to catch and departed forthwith whilst others had time to savour the delights of the city one more time and set off to walk to the Barras Market, an enormous and colourful Sunday Market where everything you could possibly think of was for sale. Those who had the time opted to take a boat trip on the River Clyde and set off in bright sunshine for an hour's cruise aboard the "Pride o' the Clyde" down to the Tall Ship at Glasgow Harbour and back.
We found the people of Glasgow to be welcoming and friendly and justly proud of their fine city. I wonder how long it will be before some of us return? Not long, for sure.
Linda Brown - Region 02