by Cameron March, MBE, Rear Commodore (House)

December 2019

When John Keats wrote in in 1820 that autumn was the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, perhaps he had not fully comprehended how much rain was going to descend on Emsworth in 2019!

Even so, this autumn’s rain fest has not deterred our junior sailors. Each weekend 33 hardy young seafarers have taken to the water for both racing and sail training: bravo! Also worth a ‘bravo’ are the parents who lend their invaluable support to their offsprings’ activities, not forgetting the other adult sailors who, with great fortitude and enthusiasm, take to the water each weekend.

Over the last few years one would have to have been living a hermit-type existence not to have heard rumours that ‘plastic’ is getting a bad press, particularly where matters maritime are concerned. With an ever vigilant weather eye on recyclability and the safe disposal of plastic bottles at the Club , we will be going ahead with the annual Bottle Race on Sunday 31 December at 1400hrs. The ingenuity behind the various craft taking part in this winter event never cease to amaze!

My own area of interest, the House Committee, has long been planning a variety of Christmas events to take place over the next month. The jovial Scots poet James Thompson wrote in 1746 in his poem 'The Seasons': 'See, the winter comes to rule the varied year, sullen and sad'. Well, we are definitely not at home to 'sullen and sad' at the ESC, as a brief canter through our festive Christmas events will clearly demonstrate.

Christmas decorations will be going up on 29 of November to set the tone for the festive season, and Ollie is offering special Christmas Carveries every Sunday in December.

Friday 6 December sees the Festive Happy Hour & Carols and a special Black Pop-up offering various clothing items for Christmas, all at ‘Black Friday’ prices. There will be bowl food at £5, a Best Christmas Jumper competition with prizes for the (both male and female) most amusing, garish, outlandish and worst taste jumper and finally, carols led by the ‘Shanty Folk’.

Lunchtime (1200 for 1230hrs) on 12 December brings a unique monthly Talk to the Club, to be given by Diana Mitchell, head guide at Highclere Castle, known to most of us as Downton Abbey, and technical historical advisor for both the television series and the recent film. The title of Diana’s talk is ‘Downton Abbey – The Backstage Story’; most intriguing! Lunch is available at the end of the talk, but book quickly for this event as there are already unprecedented numbers for her talk.

14 December welcomes that hardy perennial of the Club’s year, the Christmas Draw & Supper, which in addition to an excellent meal also provides wall-to-wall prizes for the lucky members who purchase tickets. A note of caution: there are very few tickets remaining for this event.

And, on Christmas Eve, Ollie and Eloise invite all members to mince pies and mulled wine from 1200. This is their annual ‘thank you’ to all of us who enjoy their excellent fare throughout the year. Get there in good time – it finishes at 14:00 or whenever food and drink run out!

Immediately following Christmas, we quickly arrive at the New Year’s Eve Party which starts at 2000hrs. Dress is casual, lots of ‘bowl food’, both main course and dessert (I am reliably informed that there will be a number of choices as well as seconds!), an excellent disco and a drink at midnight to welcome in 2020. Tickets (£30) are currently available, but don’t leave it too late.

On New Year’s Day we have the New Year Walk. Walkers are invited to meet up at 1000hrs at the bottom Stansted Woods car park. The walk should take about an hour to complete and follows a circuitous route around the estate, consisting of an attractive mixture of woodland and parkland. For those then returning to the Club, there is reserved seating for walkers who have booked the breakfast/brunch.

Looking back slightly to 23 November we staged what turned out to be an extremely popular event, the Music, Music, Music Night. 71 stoical souls left their firesides (and ‘Strictly’) to join us at the Club for a first-class musical extravaganza. We were entertained by two highly professional musical duos, ‘Adeste’ and ‘The Totties’, and Ollie and his team produced an excellent meal which was appropriate and tasty fare for a cold winters’ evening. I’m pleased to report that both acts and food were extremely well received by an appreciative audience – in fact, one member remarked that he had not seen so many smiley faces in the Club since the day Teresa May reinstated the winter fuel allowance!

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention the loss of a loyal Club member and good friend to many, Dave Bullman, who died on 14 November 2019 at The Martlets nursing home in Littlehampton. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and closest friends.

Cameron March
Rear Commodore (House)


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