A President’s Tale

I’m about to finish my year as president of my Rotary club. 3 July the new guy takes over. Really I’d never seen myself as Rotary material, and just joined when I’d moved to a new place (Kirkcaldy) and wanted to get to know people. I’m not good at hanging around the bar at the rugby club or golf club all weekend, so options were limited.

That was 11 years ago, and eventually it was my turn to pitch in. Some might hold it up as a great honour. Not me. It’s a club. Everyone has to take a turn, or it dies. That’s all.

One thing which has surprised me is how much travel I’ve done as part of my activities. Conferences or meetings as far apart as Inverness and Bournemouth. Ireland, Germany and Tanzania too, all on presidential business. Some trips were self inflicted, but then I like travel.

The Aberdeen conference was fun. I lived there for 7 years, and one set of grandparents lived there, so it was almost a home fixture. Instead of toeing the Rotary line and attending the Friday night fellowship dinner, a few of us broke ranks and went off for pizza and a mini pub crawl. Unfortunately the pouring rain trapped us in the first pub – the Prince of Wales. Scene of a few adventures during my student days…

Elphinstone Hall @ the University

I enjoyed Inverness too. Another former home town. And another scene of romantic and/or alcohol related and/or rugby adventures in the teens and twenties. Always enjoy being back. Something deep inside feels different when I’m in a place I’ve lived in and loved. This visit was just for a meeting of district clubs, but worth an overnight stay in a B&B to allow for a nice dinner and a couple of refreshments.

The river & the castle

I’ve never lived in Tanzania. It was all completely new. I’d never been south of the Equator, nor to sub-Saharan Africa. The main purpose of the trip was to visit some projects which the club has been funding. Somehow that led to an excursion to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. Well, it was there. I’ve no plans to live in Tanzania (nothing wrong with it, quite the opposite – just no plans).

Official Business @ Patandi Teachers College

Bournemouth. The national conference. I did think of making up an excuse. I just couldn’t see myself enjoying a visit to somewhere like that – best suited to Conservative Party conferences. But I went, and of course I enjoyed it. I do have a bit of a thing about seaside resorts out of season. Deauville. Zandvoort. But Deauville had horse racing. Zandvoort had hockey. Bournemouth only had Rotary.

Easy to enjoy

Ironically, the worldwide conference was in Bangkok this year. Very tempting, and a former second home. But I know from experience that 2 weeks is the minimum time for a trip like that, what with jet lag and acclimatisation. Too long, after my African adventure. On top of that, getting around is just such hard work in Bangkok because of the traffic, and the conference was set for the hottest time of the hot season. No thanks.

Last stop (bypassing Pitlochry, as does the main road) was Ingolstadt in Bavaria. My second home. Every 4 years my club goes to visit the Ingolstadt club, and vice versa. That was a lot of fun. I spend so much time there anyway that I couldn’t quite grasp how to be a “visitor” again.

Lunch, Eichstätt

I’ve had a few satisfying moments during the year – standing on the summit of Kilimanjaro, for example. Ingolstadt supplied another. I gave a 15 minute dinner speech in German, only 9 months after starting a beginners class. And they understood it!. Even laughed at the jokes. Fun!

© iain taylor 2012


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