For Fred Saunders
Party time in Hooke
We were not short of centenary celebrations this year and every time it was special in some way. This one was done in the village of Hooke, somewhere in the rural part of Dorset. It is a really nice and quiet place with a number of farms,countryhouses and a B&B, but no shop nor restaurant. But for one week-end, in fact only for a couple of hours, it became the target of a flash mob travelling in from all continents: from one or two dozen European countries including Iceland, from the Americas, from South Africa and Malaysia and of course Australia hitting rank 2 in numbers after UK. So many faces one had seen before, so many one had heard of and so many others completely new for most of us, all feeling like members of a large and widespread family. Thanks to Gill and her partner Guy, we all found room enough for party and accomodation on their property and in the local hall.
After long time preparations, the hot phase began with the people from the first charter week arriving. Staying in local B&Bs and a dormitory, they needed to be catered for if one didn't want to see them dying from starvation. So the first, smaller get-together took place on Friday evening into the night with barbeque, big Hello!'s , exited chatting and one or two drinks, too.
The place for the "big" party on Saturday was a local hall and the park around it, only a short footwalk from the camping area. We had a tent for the buffet, tables and benches inside and outside and a band playing for the square dance. In the hall, the walls were full of old pictures, maps, articles and adverts from all the years of sailing the Eye and from all around the world. A screen was prepared and David Williamson's laptop kept beaming all the pictures sent in by various people bringing their old adventures back into everybody's memory.
Eye of the Wind partys begin when Eye people arrive, so when Tiger began with his speech it was underway since quite a while. And how time flies when it's good! After a lot of chatting, embracing old friends, exchanging the latest gossip and plundering the buffet the dance was opened - this time with less problems to get the men involved than normally! Quite a lof of us haven't tried square dance before, so even with the very welcome support of the caller it sometimes turned out to be a challenge to follow exactly the required steps. Anyway, it was great fun and went on until the band quit around midnight. Inbetween, the cake was cut, this time by Jean's sister Miff. Also, the old main boom miracolously turned up again, the one that in 1994, 17 years ago, nailed a spoke of the helm through Geoff's hand. This time, as a late revenge, the boom was sliced into pieces and free for everyone to take home. Some also wanted autographs on it - sadly, the guys of the Spanish coastguard, who airlifted Geoff into the hospital, and the surgeons, who did a brillant job re-connecting bones and tissues again, were not there to remind to their part of the event.
Click here for the speech!
Next morning, when we mostly looked a bit different than the day before, there was breakfast at Gill's in the party tent before everything was packed and stored away again. One by one, people had one last hug and then left for their mostly far-off homes while others went down to Weymouth for the second week of our charter.
text by, pictures by and