12th - 15th September 2019

The words “It’s your job to organise the Presidents Meet,” said with a certain degree of menace, has stalked my Presidency. Clearly Wales, Scotland and England north of the M25 had been well tramped over by DPC Members. The South West was now the preserve of Andy. As a southerner I could only look south. Unfortunately there are not many mountains down south so how to interest the climbers? Then it dawned on me; the Isle of Portland. Not only circled by cliffs of the finest Portland Stone (used on many of the principal London buildings) but adjoining the spectacular Jurassic Coast of Dorset. Would Members be prepared to drive all that way south? What other attractions could I offer? Then it dawned. My culinary skills had been met previously with some derision so what better than to offer a Meet where I was not cooking?

As luck would have it, I knew from previous trips with my diving club of a little bunkhouse on Portland run by a splendid young couple who cooked like angels. Not unnaturally this couple expected some modest reward for their efforts i.e they charged.

The next hurdle, would professional Yorkshire/Derbyshire men used to living off the land and foraging, put their hands in their pockets for meals. When I floated the proposed charges for breakfast, dinner and packed lunches to the Father of the Club (Geoff), I was given a gypsies warning to ensure breakfasts and sandwich making remained “in house”. Certain Members jealously guarded their roles as Masters of the Sacred Fry Up and Brothers of the Order of Sandwich Makers. Curiously the bunkhouse was an old Masonic Lodge so the DPC’s Worshipful Guild of Breakfast Fryers and Sandwich Makers were strangely at home.

The next unknown was whether the triple whammy of The Meet being as far south as it was possible to get, one where dinners were cooked by non members and even charged for, and where there were no mountains, would result in a boycott. It was with astonishment that within a few days of the Notice going out and well before the cut off-date, we were fully booked. That of course had caused its own problems; so much so I was  having to put security measures in place to ward off assassination attempts by The Wolfman, Big Hugh and Lionel de Smooth, who left it too late to sign on. To them I publicly apologise, but ‘Elf and Safety meant that dossing down on the floor was prohibited.

As for the Meet itself my arrangements re the weather came off splendidly. The presence very near-by of a lovely pub (Cove Inn) overlooking Chesil Beach meant that extensive pre dinner drinks followed by splendid dinners, not cooked by me, and lubricated by gallons of the finest wines ensured the evenings were most pleasant.

My Co Leader, Richard Harris (a local Dorset man formerly from ‘Op North who has gone native), led a fascinating walk around the entire island. The island is infamous for the wrecks surrounding it, the wrecks (of people) housed upon it in two large prisons (including one G. Glitter), the number of lighthouses and of course the quarries and spectacular cliffs, some natural others man made, the views and its long military and naval history. The following day the Co Leader led a cracking walk from Ringstead Bay over the undulating cliffs to Lulworth Cove via Durdle Door and back via a high level inland route giving splendid views of Portland on the horizon. The Climbers once more did their thing, which is recorded elsewhere. Chris and Martin went on a lengthy cycle ride. On both days, certain of your members swam in their underpants heedless of the concern of onlookers and their families. Looking like comfortably constructed walruses as they heaved themselves ashore over the shingle, this was a memorable sight which I hope has escaped a photographic record (Axel this means you). In short, it seems everyone enjoyed the Meet which is, of course, the only thing that counts.

The President, in his euphoria of completing the weekend unscathed and reasonably mentally stable after so much ‘Where’s Syd?’ verbal abuse, has omitted to mention the mini grand feat of Mike and Rob running the 12 miles round the island before breakfast on the Sunday morning which took them 1 hour 40 minutes, and the walkers all day! Possibly the President wasn’t yet out of his bed, so was unaware!