Training weekend North East Aircraft Museum 16/17 April
This was our first weekend devoted solely to training since Eden Camp in 2009, and proved both useful and enjoyable. We were able to take advantage of the hospitality of the Museum to concentrate on improving standards in several areas. We were also able to get Richard and Mike properly attested, and we hope that Brian will formally join us shortly too. We had several drill sessions, we had a kit check and identified next priority purchases, and went on to practise the infantry advance, using a nearby field, to which Trevor had secured access from the farmer. In addition we were able to construct an improvised trench and had several photo sessions, which will provide us with some excellent photo’s for publicity purposes and the web-site. For the first time we had a piper present, and everyone enjoyed advancing to the sound of the pipes. With battle sound effects and a few pyrotechnics, we should now be capable of putting on a very impressive attack at the end of our arena display.
An unexpected bonus was the opportunity to join in a live game shoot on the farmer’s field; the result being one pheasant and one pigeon bagged, and a gift of pigeon breast for the cooking pot on the Saturday evening, from which Trevor produced a most excellent stew. We were also fed and watered by 29th Field Kitchen on the Sunday, with haggis, neeps and tatties for Sunday dinner, so the weekend was also a culinary delight. During the day we were visited by Darren, who is maintaining touch with us as an Associate Member until (hopefully) he will be able to join in fully at some stage in the future. We were also able to chat to several other visiting members of the public, and actually received an unsolicited spontaneous donation from one visiting ex?-soldier, as he was so pleased to see us keeping traditions alive on a purely voluntary basis. We will add this to the collection for Erskine. Meanwhile, the most spectacular display of the weekend was undoubtedly provided by Richard, who, in his first main Gordons event, fully demonstrated his commitment to the customs and traditions of the Regiment. Good show!
Dean Park Cemetery, Annual Dinner and Erskine Home 26/27 March 2011
Our first event of 2011 was actually four events in one. We started with some training at South Leith Halls in Edinburgh, on the Saturday morning, which continued on the Sunday morning at the same venue. Although we perhaps spent more time socializing than training, we did manage to do some useful revision of basic drill and cover some necessary admin, including how we spend our money and some ground rules for local events. Thanks to Dave for finding and booking the ‘drill hall’.
In the afternoon, after a long trek for some – good preparation for the Speyside march - we visited Dean Park Cemetery, not before being accosted by a valiant band of lady photographers at the Gallery – ah, the perils of wearing a kilt! At the cemetery itself we visited the graves of Sir Archibald Allison, who commanded the Highland Brigade at Tel-el-Kebir, and Sir Hector Macdonald. Hector of course was famously awarded a commission from the ranks of the Gordon Highlanders, and won a huge reputation throughout Scotland and the Empire as ‘Fighting Mac’. He went on to become a Major-General and command Sudanese troops at the battle of Omdurman, and the Highland Brigade in the Boer War after the disaster at Magersfontein. Faced with allegations about his private life he later committed suicide, probably on the advice of the King. Whatever the truth of the allegations, as Dave pointed out, he was a courageous soldier. The cemetery holds the graves of many other soldiers, mostly of the officer class, and includes two original wooden crosses from the Western Front. Many thanks to Dave for suggesting and organizing this part of the weekend. A great success. I shall return to have a longer prowl round the cemetery when I have a few hours to spare on a warmer day in Edinburgh!
In the evening we held our postponed Annual Dinner from 2010, at the Waterline in Leith. This proved to be an excellent venue, and the dinner itself was very pleasant. The opportunity was taken to present the Endeavour Award for 2010 to Stewart, well deserved for his enthusiasm and commitment through the year. After the dinner we adjourned to the relaxing atmosphere of Sofi’s bar for drinks. Altogether a very enjoyable evening, and thanks again to Dave for arranging the venues.
On the Sunday, we made our way at lunchtime to the Erskine Home at Bishopton, near Glasgow, where we received an excellent guided tour from Susan O’Neill of Erskine. It's good to be a little closer to the cause we will be supporting during our march in June along the Speyside Way. Afterwards, we did a presentation to the residents at the Home, which was well-received. Special thanks to new boy Trevor for standing in for Dave so well in taking the PT. Perhaps the highlight, though, was to be photographed with Alexander Shand, a veteran Gordon Highlander, at the end of the presentation. I think that everyone found the experience interesting and rewarding. The beer and sandwiches were also very welcome! Many thanks to Erskine for their excellent hospitality, and now let’s hope we can go on to raise lots of money for this worthy cause.