Virtual Christmas Drinks 2020

Christmas Drinks 5:30 pm 13/12/2020

This year’s Christmas Drinks party was quite different, and at least it didn’t mean a discussion about who was going to drive home.

Janet John acted as the technical host of the Zoom-based event, with Gwyndaf sending out invitations and Janet controlling the meeting in the background. We all signed in and soon saw 25 other screens looking back at us with about 45 members present.

David Powell welcomed everyone and explained how the meeting/party was going to be organised.
As a group we heard from members from their own rooms and were particularly pleased to see those who had not been able to make recent events (i.e. a year ago) or had moved away from the area.

Peter and Pat Chapman spoke from Brecon about the joys of living in the country and the fear of the rising river level!
Elan & Robin Preston-Whyte joined us from Englefield Green and we had a quick glimpse around their new flat.Group Screen shot

It was great to see Bridget Murray (with a backdrop of outer space) and Helen Hall again, who had both had issues attending previous meetings and new member Ruth Huckle introduced herself from Maidenhead.

Founder members, the Owens and the Broombys also gave their updates.
Colin and Di Thomas said that their house was a lot quieter this year than when they hosted last year’s get together!

Janet and Gwyndaf then randomly assigned us to ‘break-out rooms’ where we met in groups of 6 or so, so that we could chat informally amongst ourselves. This worked surprisingly well and it seemed no time until Janet called us all back into the main room and then assigned us all to different groups with new people to talk to. These sessions lasted about 8 minutes each.Break out

After 3 rounds of these chat rooms, David spoke about events planned for 2021.
These are currently ‘virtual’ events with a quiz night on Friday 22nd January and a virtual St David’s Day on 26th February with speaker Lord Williams of Oystermouth, better known as Rowan Williams. Born in Swansea, he was Bishop of Monmouth, the only Archbishop of Canterbury not to be a member of the Church of England, Master of Magdalene College Cambridge and is a prolific author and poet.

Depending on the level of restrictions, we may be able to hold a socially distanced Spring Walk and the AGM, but under current conditions, this looks unlikely. Unfortunately, there won’t be any trip to Wales this year.

After these notifications Jonathan Pegler then took over as master of ceremonies. Everyone’s microphones were muted (apart from Jonathan’s) and Jonathan played a selection of carols with Janet showing us the words on the screen. In effect we were all signing duets with Jonathan!

Finally, Jonathan played the National Anthem and we said our farewells to each other at about 7pm.

I think that everyone thought that the event went well, and our thanks go to Janet, Gwyndaf and Jonathan for making the evening go so smoothly.

Christmas Drinks 2019

At 12:30 on 8th December, we all gathered at Colin and Di Thomas’s house in Gerrards Cross for our annual Xmas Drinks and carol singing.

We last visited the Thomas’s for Christmas in 2017, when the snow prevented many from attending. Luckily, this year was a completely different story, with bright winter sunshine. Only a few people couldn’t make it, being struck down by winter bugs and not able to attend. So we were about 45 in number.

After a glass of wine, Gwyndaf John was at hand to hand out sticky name badges – either as an aide de memoire when greeting people, or to remind us who we were.

Our caterers, ‘To Dine For’ were excellent and a constant stream of canapés and drinks were served as we circulated, chatted and caught up with old friends.  Many used this opportunity to distribute Christmas cards – a chance to circulate and save on postage!

Chairman, David Powell, thanked everyone for attending and especially our hosts, Di & Colin as this was the third CDWS event they’d held over the last few years.  He then handed over to Jonathan Pegler at the piano for the Christmas carols.

This year Jonathan had produced new carol sheets, which were much appreciated and the entire room joined in for some of our favourites.

The singing went on until mid-afternoon, when guests started drifting away, thanking our hosts and making it home before dark.

 

Thanks again to Colin, Di, our caterers and the organisers.

There are lots more pictures here.

Christmas Drinks 2018

What a difference in the weather this year! Last year a sudden snowfall prevented many people from attending the Christmas drinks event, but in 2018 the weather was mild enough to enjoy the garden, and about 55 people arrived instead of the 20 or so who were able to brave the snow last year.

Jonathan, Gwyndaf & David were on parking patrol, directing drivers onto neighbour’s drives and along the lane to the Jones’s house, and, on arrival, Kay placed a label on each person, to remind them who they were and to make conversation easier.

Bill & Sue Jones were excellent hosts, and, assisted by the staff of ‘To Dine For’, attendees were plied with canapés and drinks. Many people used the opportunity of such a large gathering to distribute Christmas cards and Kay also handed out copies of the Winter Newsletter.

Rob Britton announced that Peter Lawrence has just celebrated his 90th birthday and is marking it by swimming 90 lengths of the Amersham Pool over the course of a week for the charity Bloodwise. Not only did Peter achieve his goal, he exceeded it by swimming 100 lengths!  Rob ran a raffle to support Peter Lawrence’s chosen charity which raised £200.

Unfortunately, later in the afternoon, Peter Johnston suffered a fall and we needed to call the para-medics, who took him to the hospital. Happily after he was examined the doctors declared that he was fine and he was able to be sent back home.

After the ambulance left, with Peter looking somewhat brighter, Jonathan Pegler played the organ and Bill Jones led the singing of some favourite Christmas carols.

 

Instead of presenting the usual gifts to the hosts to show our appreciation, David Powell explained that Bill & Sue had requested a donation to the Woodland Trust in order to plant trees in Parc Mawr, Conway. Bill went on to describe the ecological background and benefits of the scheme, and, at the end of the afternoon, sufficient funds had been raised for six trees to be dedicated in the name of Chiltern District Welsh Society.

We all left at about 4pm. Many thanks to Bill & Sue Jones for being such welcoming hosts and to ‘To Dine For’ for the delicious canapes and attentive service.

Christmas Drinks 2017

Everyone woke up on Sunday 10th December to find a thick layer of snow had fallen overnight and it was still snowing. It was unexpected, the roads had not been salted and the snow showed no sign of disappearing.

Luckily, we only live a few minutes away from Colin and Di Thomas’s house in Gerrards Cross, so we were able to make it, but many were not so lucky. We had expected a turnout of about 60, but only 20 people managed the journey, mostly from Gerrards Cross and Beaconsfield, including new members Kate and Colin Picton.

We were uncertain how many people would be able to attend, and as the time went by emails and phones started to arrive with tales of impassable roads and AA weather warnings.

Thankfully, the caterers, ‘To Dine For’ made it through the snow and were all prepared.  The food was excellent and very plentiful.  We had not only the canapés we had ordered but about half of the canapés for Stephanie’s following event (for 100 people) which had been cancelled. She said that the canapés for the later event wouldn’t keep, and insisted they had to be eaten.

As numbers were reduced, it did mean that we had the opportunity to talk to everyone and it was a very friendly atmosphere.

Jonathan Pegler had brought a good supply of carol sheets, distributed them around the room and played the piano while everybody enthusiastically joined in the singing.


We all left in good time before dark, trudging through the snow, many with doggy-bags of surplus food, and there was quite a bit left for Colin and Di’s supper – they earned it!

It was a different sort of event, but very sociable, and a nice-sized gathering for the new members to meet people, but it was a shame that so many were not able to enjoy the afternoon.

Many thanks to Colin and Di for their hospitality.

More photographs (and videos) here.

David Powell & Jonathan Pegler.