President's weekend away to Bury St Edmunds

THERE were a few misgivings when President Mike announced his Weekend Away venue as ‘Bury’. Thankfully, it was the one in Suffolk, not the suburb of Manchester which I drove through once, thinking it must be closed! Bury St Edmunds, proved to be one of the best locations chosen for the club’s annual extended visit, although we still seem to have it slightly askew believing the weekend starts on a Thursday.
The location of our hotel, The Angel, was a winner with loads to explore right on the doorstep and yet surrounded by gorgeous countryside that you could easily reach. You could step out on the street and go straight to the Abbey and its lovely gardens or the serene and beautifully-kept St Edmundsbury Cathedral, St Mary’s Church, the local theatre or - more appealing to some - the fun-filled Greene King Brewery tour. Further afield, but only slightly, there was intriguing Lavenham village, stylish Ickwerth House and, for the more ambitious, the horse racing stables at Newmarket – to name but a few.
Modern stores combined harmoniously with tea and coffee shops around the corner from our billet and there was a busy market at the weekend. The hotel was amusingly different, with retro furniture, atmospheric lounges, nooks and crannies and the downstairs “crypt” which was our private meeting place on both first and last night before dinner, full of quirky contents. I know that not everybody was completely happy with their room, but ours was brilliant – large and airy, second floor, right at the front but quiet as you like at night thanks to some good, old-fashioned window shutters. The hotel was good value for money, too – unless you bought drinks at the bar! That’s the case, though, with licenced premises everywhere now (expensive drink, I mean).
The Angel’s staff were helpful and delightful, too, and you couldn’t help but admire the slick skills of the porters and concierges, slotting all our cars into that cramped space behind the hotel and producing them again in the blink of an eye when you needed them at the front door. In the dedicated-to-us dining room you got a good, hearty breakfast each morning and although dinner was sometimes a bit of an adventure – it was all part of the “craic” as far as I was concerned – and always tasty. The young people serving did a great job and were well worth a substantial tip.
My only regret was to sometimes see President Mike and Michele wandering about with worried faces, talking to the management (“oh, is everybody enjoying it?”). I do hope they managed to get out a bit themselves (well, I know they were on Mike Allen’s enjoyably off-the-cuff ‘Rotary Walk Away’ on the first morning (see page 7) and that Mike led the Greene King tour) because everybody had a fine time, and many said they would go back independently to an area they had known little about but loved straight away.

posted: Sunday, 13 May 2018

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