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Kedrick, Carol, Frank and myself at BVI House

Kedrick, Carol, Frank and myself at BVI House

What a week..!! A speaking engagement to 300 people in Telford Wednesday night at the Flood & Coast Risk Management conference meant an overnight “up north”.  We were back in Southampton by 1100am, just enough time for a quick freshen-up before catching the train to Waterloo and then a cab to Buck House to celebrate Princess Anne’s 60th birthday party.  I should point out that I was just one of at least 2,000 other guests and I never even got to see her, not even her hat, but it was a delight to be asked. The gardens were beautiful. Strange place to bump into friends but that I did, including the magnificent Phil Packer of Help for Heroes fame and Ronald & Sylvia Sandeman (Sylvia was a Sailability trustee with me a lifetime ago).  Opting for a cooling water rather than tea and crustless cucumber sandwiches ( I kid you not), I made my excuses and at 5.15 hurried to my next engagement.  Avoding the urge to do “donuts” on the BH gravel, I whizzed past the  chaps with the tall furry hats, out of BH, across green Park, up Park Lane and 20 minutes later arrived at BVI House where I was guest of Honour at their Territory Day celebrations. Elaine & Tim, unable to do the birthday gig, were waiting for me at BVI House.  Tim was genuinely disappointed to learn that HRH did not do “goody bags” at her party – quite what a Princess would put in a party goody bag, I have no idea.  Had a great evening at BVI House, met some old friends and made many new ones.  In particular Kedrick Malone who is the Director of BVI House and Frank Savage, past-Governor of the BVI. We were back in Southampton by midnight, 3 tired teddy bears.  To see all of the photo’s, CLICK HERE

Highlight of Friday was the reuniting with Susana, my crew on the Atlantic crossing (yes, thankfully she is still speaking to me and yes, she is fully recovered from her sea-sickness).  She is doing fine and, as I suspected, like a migrating lizard, she’s back in the UK for some sunshine as NZ is entering its winter.

Today, Saturday, spent the day at Goodwood Festival of Speed.  £50 a ticket. OUCH. Programmes £12 OUCH-OUCH. Bacon butties £5.  Was it worth it. Not in my view.  When we arrived racing had already started so the track was closed to the public. This meant, unless you had functioning lower limbs and used the footbridge to get across to the middle of the track where all the exhibits were, you were left, unable to see a thing other than hay bales and the backs of spectators .  1 hour 45 minutes I waited – I could not see the racing, I missed the Red Arrows air display, there were no disabled viewing platforms anywhere on the outside of the track.  So, for nearly 2 hours I sat on my own whilst Tim and a friend went over the bridge without me – I wasn’t going to let it ruin their day.  But not much fun for me.  I hope the Earl of March, Charles Gordon-Lennox, who owns the Goodwood Estate, will be suitably embarrassed when he reads my “angry from Tunbridge Wells” letter on Monday morning as he tucks into his rice krispies . Don’t get me wrong, if ticket prices were reduced for wheelchair users to compensate for the lack of facilities, it would have been more palatable, but they are not, in which case I think it’s only right to expect the same level of access. Once inside, there were two highlights – for Tim anyway.  Firstly he got to see his all time favourite car, a Ferrari Enzo, albeit a yellow one.  Why would anyone want a non-red Ferrari?.  Plus he met one of his rugby heroes Matt Dawson. 

Tomorrow we fly to Tortola for 10 days much needed R&R and for me to take a chill-pill and get down off my Goodwood “high horse”.  I look forward to the Earl’s apology letter sitting my doormat when we get back.

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