Preparing to leave the beach and head for Control in the Park Hotel we spotted Nik slithering through the dunes and coming towards us. She dipped her tootsies in the sea and more photographs were taken. Lots of hugs and kisses later (this ‘finishing the Challenge’ malarkey is A Good Thing for a chap) we finally dragged ourselves away to sign in and collect our certificates, T shirts and badges.
The New Controller seem to have everything under control and it was good to see Roger and Patricia Smith, Steph and baby Jack – and also to meet Robin Woodger, the voice on the phone for the first week, for the first time.
Gallons of Patricia’s tea was drunk and we caused some serious damage to Control’s biscuit reserves as we chatted to other Challengers. It was clear to me that many of these people were hanging around to see if they could pick up any tips from The Master Biscuit Liberator. They learnt nothing – I keep my secrets very close to my chest.
After bathing / showering or whatever (and donning clean clothes – now that WAS a treat!) it was time to eat. We had arranged to go for an early evening curry with other Challengers before returning to the Park for the
bun fight speeches.
The Indian Restaurant already had a couple of Challengers ensconced and enjoying their meal. We sat down and before long were joined by hoards of green – T shirted Challengers, all seeking decent food.
Judith Barnes, Peter, & Louise
Back to the Park and proceedings were in full swing. The meal had all but finished – it was now wall-to-wall speeches and presentations. I normally avoid such occasions, but a Challenge dinner is a spectacle to be savoured….apart from the food that is.
The New Controller, Roger Smith and JD all excelled in their speeches – it was particularly pleasing to see Bill from Callater being presented with a large bottle of something very alcoholic.
Adjourning to the bar after the speeches is a great opportunity to catch up with Challengers from previous years – or even Challengers only encountered earlier on the current year’s event. I wasn’t disappointed – even Denis had made it to Montrose. We had a long chat about his decision to retire from the event, it was quite clear that there was no way he could have continued any further than Aviemore. He had made the absolutely correct choice. I just hope that if ever I’m in that position I take the same line of action - and that pig-headedness doesn’t take over.
Croydon, a Challenge ‘extra’ this year, led singing at one end of the bar. Other Challengers simply talked of their experiences. More than a few drank copiously. It was odd to see a room so full of green T shirts. It was an unforgettable night.
The following morning it was time to go home and it was very hard to leave. Martin & Sue had kindly offered me a lift to Timperley in their car. I’d managed to pick up a freebie train ticket from Control and decided to make use of it. Sitting on the train would give me the chance to get some shut-eye on the journey – not so easy in a car.
I was later to discover the ticket was Lynsey’s, but she’d now opted to go home with Alistair in their car – so I owe her more than a couple of pints!
I wandered down to Montrose Railway Station with all the other Challengers, it really was a moment tinged with sadness. I had enjoyed a marvellous Challenge and now it was the REAL end…..until next year anyway!
Lots of shaking of hands, kisses and hugs later, the train left. I sat with Judith for most of the journey back, in between my snoring I rather fancy we talked non-stop about our wonderful two weeks in Scotland.
I’m already plotting next year’s Challenge – it promises to be exceptional!