Saturday, 17 April 2010

A day at Celtic Manor

And in case you've not heard of it, it's the very posh hotel which is hosting the Ryder Cup in June. I took my camera with me, but was so intimidated by the place I didn't dare take any pictures. (Actually I just forgot.) So these are from the website.
One has to admit it's some place. The place with two trees in it is the entrance lobby. We were there for the MND Association Spring Conference - and as this one seemed the easiest for us to get to we got up at crack of dawn and headed west along the M4 for Newport. When we drove up the mountainous approach to the hotel, it wasn't obvious where we should park, and so, being a bit late, we drove up to the front entrance, through the chaps heading off for their morning's golf. Immediately a suited gentleman emerged from the front door and asked if he could help. We explained. 'If you'd leave your car there,... it will be parked for you, madam. Can I help with sir's wheelchair?' This is the life, I thought. 

Sadly, the conference was in the corporate bowels of the hotel, which while not having the glamour of the upper floors still were no slums. Coffee and pastries on arrival, coffee and cookies at 11, lunch in the Denbeigh Suite (two courses), tea and griddle cakes at the end - and in between talks on what the MNDA offers, on its developing support systems, an update on research and finally a session on the National Strategy for MND, especially campaigning at the general election ( We were encouraged to ask canvassers and candidates whether they'd sign 'the pledge' (to support a national strategy). By the way, did I mention the petition about it? Have you signed it?
However, the best thing was meeting people. In fact the first people we bumped into (literally) were Norman, who sometimes comments on this blog, and his brother. There were three other people we knew there. We met a number of new people as well, including a nice coordinator from the Midlands, who recognised me from My Donkeybody. The only downer was that it was a glorious sunny day, and there we were, indoors. I suppose we could have explored the grounds at the end, but we could sense Jess calling for her supper; and so we headed home.  A good day.

Actually it's been a pretty good week for us - if not for G Brown and D Cameron esquires! I think it was quite a revelation quite how well N Clegg esq performed on Thursday night. I guess three things were in his favour: one was being seen on an equal footing with the other two; secondly not being rendered inaudible as he usually is in the bearpit of Prime Minister's Questions, and thirdly having nothing to lose. But give him his due, he answered questions specifically, appeared sincere and smiled, at least looked relaxed. I guess the other two will be a bit more wary of him next time. However I did think of  Brian's joke as they promised their goodies... 'we were campaigning then...'

But I was talking about our week. I suppose, beside the sun coming out, the big thing again was I Choose Everything. On Tuesday we went in to Cornerstone and talked to the manager, Mary, about the possibility of holding the book launch there in July. She was meeting with board members that evening, and upshot is we have a provisional date booked for late in the month. In the meantime Jenny who's handling the nitty-gritty editing at Monarch, the publishers, sent an email saying she had posted the proofs to me for proof-reading. They arrived on Friday, by the same post as a letter from the Very Rev Dominic Milroy who'd read the book and sent a nice comment about it. So now the job of reading through the book as though someone else had written it has begun. I must say you feel a definite sense of progress when it's set up in the final format.

However, tomorrow's a day off, which will be welcome. We'll discover whether Williams can improve on 8th which is their best result so far, in tomorrow's Chinese Grand Prix. Sadly they're further back on the grid than before at 11th and 16th.... Still, after 3 races Barrichello has 5 points, only 34 behind the leader. Hope springs eternal.

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