Following my promotion to the president’s post we have been busy keeping up with the constant spiral of requests for visits and appearances at events within the Burns’ fraternity throughout the country and beyond.
The presidential journey began with a full weekend of entertainment organised by the Glasgow Association of Burns Clubs who in conjunction with the Lord Provosts Department and the RBWF conference committee welcomed federation delegates to a civic reception and dinner in the city chambers.
It was also a delight to welcome newly promoted Senior Vice Marc and Junior Vice Henry at the inaugural dinner as well as all delegates from the UK and abroad.
The weekend was finalised with a service in Glasgow Cathedral followed by the laying of wreaths at the Burns’ statue in George Square.
While the September conference was an enjoyable affair, it was not long before we had to get our act together to prepare for our inaugural trip to Canada.
Having left Edinburgh in glorious sunshine, we landed in a very wet Vancouver although as we Scots say, * there’s no such thing as bad weather, only a poor choice of clothing *.
The rain was a constant for the duration of our stay in the city but it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm.
We travelled out to Vancouver Island to meet up with Lloyd McQuilwham an immigration lawyer and Burns enthusiast and his wife Swan who is Chinese and who fills her time teaching the local school children Mandarin while also acting as an interpreter.
We had a great day visiting the Cathedral forest where some of the tallest trees in Canada are found followed by an excursion to the local harbour for a spot of crab fishing.
We caught a few crabs which Swan cooked for our evening meal after which we were treated to a Chinese tea ceremony featuring many different types and strengths of tea. I have never drunk so many cups of tea in my life but very enjoyable never the less.
We rounded off the evening with a lot of conversation and finally a trip down memory lane with a selection of music from the 1960s.
We returned to Vancouver the following day where we resigned ourselves to making arrangements for the trip to Calgary, a journey of nearly 1000 kilometres.
The options on the table were fly or drive and we were glad that we had opted to hire a car because the trip through the Rockies was stunning.
We didn’t however complete the journey in one fell swoop but stayed overnight in the small town of Golden, before leaving for Calgary via Kamloops and Banff in the morning.
We arrived around lunchtime where we met up with Tony and Sheila Grace who immediately whisked us off to enjoy lunch at one of the local pubs.
We stayed with our hosts for the first couple of days where the hospitality (and the 25year old MacAllan) was second to none.
Our next hosts were Jim and Joyce McLaughlin, both, originally from the West of Scotland. Jim was the former Sheriff and principle court officer of Calgary, now happily retired.
They drove us out on an excursion to Canmore for coffees and then on to Lakes Louise and Moraine up in the mountains.
There followed an evening reception with the members of Calgary Burns Club where we enjoyed a lovely buffet and sing song in the company of the Calgary singers.
The following morning Jim and Joyce took us for a walk around downtown Calgary where we walked along the river, routing through the city centre before returning via the old town before heading back for lunch.
In the afternoon we were joined by Paul and Anne Armstrong who took us on an excursion to Spruce Meadows, one of the most prestigious equestrian centres in North America where we were allowed behind the scenes into the practice paddocks and to see the horses in their stalls.
There followed a visit to Gasolene alley, as the name suggests a motor and transport museum, where we had bison fillet steaks in the restaurant.
A few nightcaps and off for a good nights sleep to prepare for the next phase of our journey in the morning.
More to follow.