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Laurieston Hall  9-13 May 2008

I was keen to take the opportunity to go to Laurieston Hall, the setting looked wonderful.

It is 30 years since I was last in Scotland and that involved a hockey tour with the Aberdeen Boys Grammar School, where I was the only female!

Joining Glyn at Euston we boarded a pristine ‘Virgin’ train and sat in comfort until outside Carlisle, where we ground to a halt…sheep on the line! On to Dumfries, and we travelled on the hottest train ever. Alan kindly collected us in his new car. A quick stop at Tesco’s to fill up with a bottle or two of wine, beer and gin for Janee. Despite my map reading we were soon heading up the long drive to Laurieston Hall.  Oh my, what a lovely building!

Introductions all round, a cup of tea by the huge log fire, and then we were whisked off to choose our rooms. The lads decided on a very pink dorm! I had a whole dorm to myself, which included a balcony. We began to explore, getting no further than Tony’s superb mobile home, which was to become the smoking and music zone.

Our first delicious meal coaxed some weary travellers from their beds.

What a cosmopolitan group we were. Fred, Helene and Eric from the Nederlands, Anne from France and Murphy from good old Emerald Isle, along with Dick and Janee from the south, Luke and his wife Val, Alan from Manchester, Glyn and Tony from York and Will.

The first session of bridge was soon underway. Being relatively new to the game I was puzzled by, SEF, Boring Club, 2/1, Sayc all being played in the weekend!

After the session we piled out for drinks, a glimpse at the night sky, with Tony to guide us.  It was not long before someone wanted to play a few hands - 2am bed time for me….4am for the lads!

Bridge was again at 10am. Lunch, a free afternoon, anyone want a game? - Introducing Fred to Acol!   Some went off in search of Cream O Galloway Ice Cream and indulged in the long awaited eating competition.  Dinner then bridge. What can we see in the sky tonight?  Drinks, ‘anyone want a game’ was soon heard.  It was just as much fun watching as playing, especially when the Yorkshire lads were partners.

The same format for Sunday more or less. In the afternoon the more energetic went to the loch. Walking among the haze of bluebells, through the woods was an unforgettable experience.  It was warm enough to paddle in the Loch, and I did along with Dick, Noel and Anne.

In all our sessions we had players from Will’s local bridge club. This made the bridge more interesting.

In the evening we had prize giving. Helene and Fred won 2 of the 3 pairs sessions, but  they also managed the lowest score…when their system went wrong. My team won all the team events BRAVO.

There were lots of prizes and everyone won something. The best prize has got to be a session with Mark, Coch Draig, a Welsh international. Will won that and just enjoyed 10 bds playing with Mark with a full written analysis after. Well done Will and big thank you to Mark.

Everyone at the Hall was very welcoming, we were asked to help with tidying up after meals. Every room and window ledge had a vase of flowers; it was such a nice touch. There was tons of home made food to suit all tastes, lashings of hot water and everywhere was spotless, the company was terrific. I hope we are invited back to this welcoming Community in their wonderful part of the country.

My huge thanks go to Will and Janee for organising such a superb weekend.