Monday, October 14, 2019

22. 12th October 2019

There are some days when the weather conditions are absolutely critical to one’s enjoyment of the day, and today was one of them, for it was the day for the 47th Thames Fishery Research Experiment at Gravesend .

Judy and I took the train from St Pancras International to Gravesend, and then a short taxi ride later saw us arriving at what remains of the Gravesend Isolation Hospital at Denton which is now the offices of The Port Health River Division Office. It was from this Hospital that in the 18th and 19th centuries , the doctors who were working for the Port Health Authority would travel out to arriving vessels and check on the health of the sailors – if necessary putting them into quarantine in the Hospital at which we had just arrived.

After a restorative cup of coffee we set out along the bank of the Thames to see how the angling teams were getting on. There were eight teams, including two from schools – namely City of London Girls School and Gravesend Grammar School. The eight anglers in each team were spread out over a good mile and a half of river bank and fished for four hours from 9.00am till 1.00pm when a whistle was blown and the competition ended.

The overall objective of the Experiment is to establish the environmental condition of the Thames through determining the number and size of fish species returning to the River. Judging is based on the greatest variety and number of fish caught and uses a scoring system which rates fish according to scarcity and significance in the context of a cleaner river. The results provide valuable information to organisations such as The Environment Agency, the Thames Angling Preservation Society and the Institute of Fisheries Management.

Judy and I thoroughly enjoyed our walk along the bank of the estuary, chatting to the various anglers and seeing what they had caught. All the while the rain clouds banked up and threatened their worst, but it did not rain - at least not until we were safely ensconced in the lunch marquee for the post competition lunch and prize giving!

The Total Catch for the morning was amazing in its size and diversity. The Total Catch was 375 fish comprising 7 species. The break down was 187 Whiting; 128 Pouting; 35 Flounder; 8 Eel ; 6 Bass ; 6 Sole ; and 5 Crab.

I presented The Biodiversity Award. This is an award given by The Water Conservators for the catch which most demonstrates the continuing healthiness and improvement of the River Thames. This year’s winning catch ( 3 Flounder, 3 Pouting, 2 Whiting ; 1 Bass, I sole , and 1 Eel ) came from a member of the PLA Angling Team.

After an excellent lunch in a marquee especially erected in the Car Park of the Port River Health Division Office, Judy and I hitched a lift back to the Guildhall on a Corporation minibus with members of the Corporation.

It was a fascinating and thoroughly worthwhile day!

Friday, October 11, 2019

21, 10th October 2019

Today it was off to Nottingham for the Officers Mess Dinner Night at Chetwynd Barracks, Chilwell , as the guest of The Commander of 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group.

After changing into Black Tie in my hotel I took a 25 minute taxi ride out from the centre of Nottingham to the Barracks .The cab driver set me down at the entrance barrier to the Barracks , saying he was not permitted to take me any further .

After going through security formalities, the guard then produced a map of the Barracks, saying that the Officers Mess was a good ten minutes walk or so right to the other end of the Barracks ! Fortunately I prevailed upon him to drive me down to the Officers Mess , otherwise I think that I would almost certainly have got lost , so lacking in signposts was the Barracks , and so deserted were the roads.

I was given a very warm and hospitable welcome upon arrival by the Commander of 170 (Infrastructure Support ) Engineer Group , and met my “shepherd” for the evening , who is heavily involved in the water projects that the Group undertakes overseas . It was a very useful evening in terms of renewing contact with the Group.

The dinner itself was splendid .After pre- dinner drinks, we were summoned to dinner in the Mess Dining Room where a long table had been beautifully set for around 80 people ; the regimental silver glinting in the soft candlelight . After Grace we all sat down to dinner. The Officers looked absolutely splendid in their red jackets with blue lapels, white shirts, waistcoats , dress trousers and patent leather boots with silver spurs . The scene – with the scarlet, gold, white and blue set against the wood panelling of the Mess, all softened by the flickering candlelight – had an almost Georgian quality about it . An excellent meal followed, accompanied by some fine wines. After dessert, we adjourned for 20 minutes and then returned to the table for cheese and port and the speeches. We were entertained throughout the dinner by an accomplished group of musicians.

At around 11.30pm, I bade my farewells – this time , the Commander asked his chauffeur to take me back direct from the Officers Mess to the hotel !

Thursday, October 10, 2019

20. 9th October 2019

David Soo performing at the Grosvenor Chapel 

This evening, I went to The Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers of London Annual Charity Concert.

The Concert was held at the Grosvenor Chapel in South Audley Street, Mayfair.

By a stroke of good fortune, I managed to sit in one of the” best seats in the House“, which afforded me a wonderful view of the pianists’ hands as they danced across the keyboard I was struck by the emotion with which they played , at times caressing the keys to coax sound out of them , and at times playing more assertively.

David Soo
The music was sublime –  Australian pianist ,David Soo , the Glass Sellers Beethoven Piano Prize Winner 2018 , treated us to a most accomplished performance of a Beethoven Sonata , followed by a Prokofiev Sonata . After the interval he was joined by Zhu Sun , another pianist who has studied at The Guildhall School  of Music, and they played four duets  from Bach , Ravel , Faure and Dvorak, before David Soo completed the programme with two compositions from Lizt , the last being a brilliantly played Rhapsodie Espagnole . I was most impressed by David Soo playing all his pieces from memory.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

19. 7th October 2019

I attended a Reception this evening at Guildhall organised by The Livery Committee in honour of the Immediate Past Chairman Deputy Richard Regan OBE.

A pan – livery event such as this serves as a reminder of the tremendous driver for good that is the Livery movement , and the Chairman of the Livery Committee’s speech evidenced this with force  and eloquence , citing the fact that around £67 million pa is distributed by the Livery Movement in charitable giving .

An excellent Reception where there was a chance to meet up again with various Masters who are now becoming well established friends , as well as meet for the first time one or two who are just about to enter office.

Monday, October 7, 2019

18. 6th October 2019

A Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Beacon
on the walk route

Torrential rain hammering on the roof woke me at around 6.00am this morning – an early Sunday morning awakening! As I drifted off back to sleep I thought that it did not bode well for our River Chess Sponsored Walk, which was due to take place later in the day.

Fortunately when I re-awoke around 8.00 am the rain had stopped and a reasonable day’s weather was in prospect.

A tube ride to Chorleywood saw me meet up with my co – walkers, and the ten of us then walked the 7 miles or so between Chorleywood and Chesham following the route of the River Chess. The River Chess lies in The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – it was a revelation to me, as I had until now never had the opportunity to enjoy the countryside of this part of the Home Counties .

The weather remained kind to us throughout the walk and around 3.30pm we reached Chesham where we all enjoyed a late lunch.

The sponsorship monies raised on the Walk are going to support the work of our Charity, The Water Conservation Trust, in schools.  It looks as though we will have raised around £2500 from the day’s walk , including some generous matched funding from Thames Water’s Charity Committee.

Morning Refreshments!

Team Photo!

A Rainstorm Gathering in the Chess Valley

17. 2nd October 2019

Robing in the Guildhall Crypt prior to Common Hall

After yesterday’s persistent and torrential rain, what a joy it was to wake up to a chilly but sunny Autumn morning, and indeed the Livery movement was fortunate that the sun shone on it all day!

Why? Because today was the date for the Common Council to elect next year’s Lord Mayor, so a fair measure of processing in the open air was in prospect.

St Lawrence Jewry prior to the start of the Service
After a hearty breakfast in the Members Dining Room at Guildhall, I went to the Crypt to robe up. This was successfully achieved through a spontaneous system of mutual support that extended amongst those engaged upon the same task in the Crypt! Then we were expertly marshalled into our processional order by representatives from The Guildhall, and duly processed across the sunlit Courtyard through the doors of St Lawrence Jewry for the Divine Service prior to The Election of the Lord Mayor. After processing out again at the end of the Service back to the Guildhall, we were all ordered to execute a 180 degree turn, and then to process in this new order into the Guildhall for the meeting of Common Hall. The ease with which this manoeuvre was achieved was wondrous to behold!

The election resulted in William Anthony Bowater Russell being elected the 692nd Lord Mayor of The City of London.

Following a most enjoyable lunch with Thames Warden , Rob Casey ,  I made my way to St Paul’s Cathedral , and into St Faith’s Chapel to robe up for the Evensong attended by the Worshipful Company of Musicians .This was a lovely service graced by beautiful singing and music ; St Paul’s organ being played at full throttle is a sound to send shivers down one’s spine!
The Reception in the Crypt of St Paul’s
after the Musicians Company Evensong

And then it was that I finally met up with Judy to enjoy the Reception in the Crypt after the Service, kindly hosted by The Musicians’ Company.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

16, 27-29th September 2019

Dinner at at The George
The actual happening of a Master’s Weekend is the tip of the iceberg.

The months of planning, research  and trying to fit the various pieces of the jigsaw together culminate in two days where the bits of the jigsaw either do fit together or not – happily in our case they did! And despite a somewhat ominous weather forecast, in the event the weather smiled on us the whole weekend!

On Friday evening the 27th September, 22 of us gathered at The George pub in South Street for a Welcome Drink in The Snug – before proceeding to the restaurant where we enjoyed a very fine meal.

The Master encouraged as many as could make it to rise early enough to take part in the Parkrun in Bridport which takes place at St Mary’s Fields , close to the centre of town . And as Saturday dawned 6 intrepid members of the party, including the Master and his Consor, found themselves participating in the 14th St Mary’s Parkrun at 9.00am . The morning was for everyone to explore and enjoy what Bridport has to offer – it was the day of The Charter Fair (which commemorates the grant of the Charter to hold a market in Bridport by Henry III to the citizens of the town ). The town was en fete – with live music throughout the day at Bucky Doo Square in the centre of town , and many stalls offering their wares, as well as the weekly bric a brac market on South Street. We had organised for the Church Tower of St Mary’s Church to be opened, and the clear weather afforded those who climbed the narrow steps and squeezed through the tiny doorway onto the roof of the Church Tower a wonderful view of Bridport.

Team photo at Furleigh Estate Vineyard 
The afternoon saw us all gather at Furleigh Estate vineyard around 15 minutes drive from Bridport where, after a most informative tour , we sat down to sample three wines produced by the vineyard.

The West Dorset Community Strings 
performing at the dinner on Saturday night
Then it was back into Bridport for a cup of tea before all meeting again at The Literary & Scientific Institute where we were treated to an absolutely fascinating talk on” Churchill’s Secret Army” – the untold story of the UK resistance movement set up by Churchill after Dunkirk , when an invasion of the UK seemed imminent . After such excellent mental nourishment, it was again time to nourish the body with pre-dinner prosecco   and canapes before sitting down to a meal where both The Hyde Farmhouse pork sausages and The Hyde Farmhouse apple juice were on offer. During dinner we were entertained by a performance by the West Dorset Community Strings –
a group of nine violinists and cellists who played amongst other pieces, Handel’s Water Music!

On Sunday the 29th September, after coffee at West Bay, it was time to say farewell as the curtain came down on what had been a most convivial and enjoyable Master’s Weekend.