1.        Annual General Meeting 2003
2.       From Florida to New England
Never mind the Calories, Watch the Feet

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Annual General Meeting

  Fifteen stalwarts assembled in the postgraduate Centre in October for the final Medical Society AGM at that venue. Some things don’t change – Wendy Kingston continues as secretary and Alastair Miller (especially after presenting a healthy set of accounts) as treasurer. Naming her charities as the research arm of the Multiple Sclerosis Society & the RCOG (“Wellbeing”), Jan Meggy stepped down as President, relinquishing the gavel to David Malcomson with Chris Gate as his vice (so to speak).

  David’s succession to higher office meant resigning as social secretary after 14 years outstanding service. Members had contributed generously in due recognition of his efforts and achievement, and the gift purchased with the donations was presented. The gap left by David and Liz will be filled by the double act of Paul Williams and Thompson.

  The meat of the evening’s business was a presentation by Clive Prince on the new Treatment Centre, followed by much discussion on the disparity between past promises and the reality. It was a consolation to hear that, although other personnel from the old staff development centre have been redeployed, Sheenagh Gallagher will still be around, running the new multidisciplinary centre from an office opposite the entrance. A farewell bash to the current PGMC was proposed – watch out for more details.

  Spouses then joined members for the traditional supper  

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From Florida
to New England .

There is one word or one accessory that makes touring in the United States an absolute doddle – plastic! OK,  OK, you can pre book your flights, your car, your hotels and your meals but surely this takes all the adventure out of it completely. Your holiday suddenly becomes as boringly predictable as a cheap week in Majorca or an expensive Caribbean cruise! And I will throw in another argument – don’t try and tell me that it is cheaper to book a package holiday because nothing could be further from the truth. To experience a carefully managed but completely unplanned driving holiday, totally funded by credit and debit cards is something to write home about! But more about the plastic and costs later.

Having annually replenished our Vitamin D reserves in Florida for a number of years, we decided to do an east coast tour as a final fling before we started exploring other parts of the world. No definite route was planned but rather, Isobel and I looked at a map and picked a number of places which we thought would stimulate our interest. The car we decided on was classed as an American full size and was booked in advance from the UK . The insurance was covered as a freebie by my American Express Gold Card.

And so off we went. From Fort Myers in Flordia. Iit was a full day behind the wheel up to Savannah on the Georgia / South Carolina border. Day’s Inn provided the lodging and baby back ribs, and the following day we did a trolley tour of that remarkable city which was one of the few that was not ravaged by the American civil war. Incidentally, we were so impressed by the cost and quality of Day’s Inn that we made a point of looking for them on our travels and unless I tell you otherwise, that is where we stayed for the rest of our 15 day adventure. Then it was inland towards Atlanta , aiming for one of Isobel’s choices – Dollywood in Pigeon Ford, Tennessee where we enjoyed 2 days of country music and ski lift rides above Gatlingburgh into the Great Smokey Mountains . The next stage was to experience more of the Smokies at dawn and on along the Appalachian trail and Blue Ridge Highway . Absolutely incredible sights, sounds and wildlife but, if any of you try it, about 100 miles at 40 mph is enough because it can become a bit boring. Get up as far as Grandfather Mountain , have a look at the injured wild animal sanctuary before you get onto a much faster Interstate – which is what we did and made for Roanoke .

By this time we were into Southern Virginia and were beginning to see the influence of the 1861 – 1865 American Civil War. And so on to Stonewall Jackson’s modest home in Lexington, Virginia followed by magnificent Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson (he’s the one on the $2 note  (and yes, there is one). Naturally the Americans treat these places like shrines and the guided tours were a very rewarding experience indeed – well, poor things, they don’t have a lot of history to talk about do they! From here it was to Washington DC which was one of the low points of the tour. After all, Washington is a city like any other city and, being more of a country boy, I was not impressed. Having said that, a semi guided tour of the Arlington National Cemetery and Robert E. Lee’s house were well worth making the day better. And don’t forget, a city based Holiday Inn hotel is not cheap!

Next up to Pensylvania and Gettysburgh where we spent 2 days exploring the battlefield and the innumerable museums and enjoying every minute.  Then it was north through Amish country to New Jersey where we met up with Tina, who was my secretary at Forest Glades back in the 80s. She and Richard, her husband, went there as part of Brinton’s attack on the American carpet industry and never came back! We spent a superb evening reminiscing and sampling some of the micro brewery products!

North to Vermont in the first week of October where we hoped to see the glorious colours of the fall. In fact we were about 10 days too early and, although it was quite spectacular, the Wyre Forest could give New England a run for its money anytime! Yet another Day’s Inn 30 miles west of Boston was our next base for 3 nights and from here we roamed New Hampshire , Rhode Island , Connecticut and Cape Cod . This was a very memorable few days and the icing on the cake was a boat trip out into the Atlantic Ocean to do some whale watching.

Our last night was the most expensive but, naturally, we wanted it to be a night to remember. The Hyatt Hotel overlooking Boston Harbour and sampling a Maine lobster – magnificent. Oh and yes, we did visit Cheers (established 1895) but none of the original cast were there on the day!

And the costs? Well, our air fares were covered by air miles but for the sake of this article I looked at standard air fares, and they varied between £270 and £400 per person return. Hotel costs varied between $50 and $70 for each of the Day’s Inns – and that is for 2 persons including breakfast. Washington and Boston added another $350, Evening meals were fairly consistent at $40 including tips. Taking into account tour fees, petrol and other bits and pieces, about another $500 covered it. Swapping dollars into pounds the total cost of the holiday for the two of us was in the region of $3250 or £2020. Try telling me what package holiday could provide such a magnificent adventure at £1000 per head!!

Barrie Davies


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Never mind the Calories, Watch the Feet

                     In an effort to see more of each other, my husband and I  are embarking on ballroom dancing lessons together. Friends have warned us that it might, like teaching your spouse to drive, have disastrous effects and end up in the divorce courts, but time will tell! Neither of us is strictly a novice – he had lessons until expelled from the class for switching off the lights during “Dancing in the Dark”, and I ( as wonderfully accurately depicted in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”) suffered the fate of all tall girls in a single sex school, and only ever learned the man’s part.

  I have to admit to some nervousness about this venture. The sneer in the petite (BMI 18) P.E. mistress’s voice as she described my efforts as “galumphing carthorse” remains with me to this day, and has certainly contributed to my previous avoidance of the dance floor. It also seems I may have been misled by the actual advertisement of the classes as “Ballroom and Latin American” - I had assumed we would begin with more sedate steps such as the waltz. However, something about the way the signing up clerk said breezily, “Oh, you mean the Salsa School ” has rung a loud warning bell. Thus, the condition of supplying you with further reports on our progress is  (for the time being, anyway!) strict anonymity!!

Fred & Ginger’

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