A group of 11 gathered in Topsham, near Exeter for an excellent weekend, primarily to see the Exeter Chiefs play London Irish in the Premier League. The group comprised OS predominantly from the 1960s, a number of whom had bonded over an annual visit to the Isle of Man Hockey Festival from 1973-83, which was organised by APP Smith. Peter resuscitated the group 9 years ago when we visited Teignmouth, Devon. This morphed into an annual trip initially to Bath before moving to Exeter in 2017. As a result of Covid, it was 30 months since the group had gathered so there was a lot of catching up to be done.
The format for the weekend starts with the golfers playing a couple of rounds on the Friday, with the non-golfers arriving that evening for the opening dinner. We stay at the Globe Hotel in Topsham, which is conveniently located for Sandy Park where the Chiefs play their rugby. Topsham is a beautiful, large village at the head of the Exe estuary, well connected to Exeter by bus and train.
As you can imagine, after such a long gap, Friday evening passed extremely quickly and comfortably in the Globe. The golfers were very pleased that they had played with Test Match Special commentator (and former Test cricketer) Vic Marks so were full of that.
Saturday began gently after an excellent evening before the party gathered for lunch at The Bridge Inn, famous for being one of the very few pubs in the country that the Queen has visited. From there it was off to Sandy Park for the match. Surprisingly London Irish comfortably beat the Chiefs 21-33, who are not having a good season especially by their normal standards, in an excellent game for neutrals and Irish supporters. It was then back to the Globe for the evening once the taxis had been located.
On Saturday evenings it has become a tradition to have a wine tasting before dinner, which Charlie Abrams, former BSC master, local resident and keen Exeter Chiefs supporter also joined. This year's test was organised by Fingers Chown, who spends a lot of time in France. He set us a very tough test with predominantly French wines (I had never heard of Carignan and Mouvedre) nor permitted easy points, e.g. for colour, but despite low scoring, his selections were very much enjoyed.
During the evening, we were visited by OS Martin Harvey (GH,SuH, 65-72) who lives in Topsham and whom we first met by chance in the Bridge on our first visit back in 2017. On our last visit, he had very kindly entertained us to dinner so it was great to see him.
We departed on Sunday morning after another superb weekend among wonderful people. Much thanks to Peter Smith for his brilliant organisation and to my friend Duncan Beck for both arranging the golf (including celebrity) and securing tickets for the rugby. Next year's weekend has already been fixed for 25-27 March to see the Chiefs v Leicester Tigers. Do contact Peter if you'd be interested in joining us.
The party - Abrams C (Master, 69-83), Carter CJ (GH,SH,64-71), Goodchild RN (GH, SHa,60-67), Ireland J (MJH,HH, 69-78) Minto W (GH,SuH, 64-73)) Murdoch G (GH,HH,62-69), Norris CM (GH,SH, 60-68), Smith APP (AH, 64-68)
Non-OS – Banks R, Beck DR, Bennett P, Chown R, Griffiths G & Prowse J (Staff, 07-16)
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