PEM Friends, the UK wing of the IPPF, held their annual get-together at Carolyn and Raymond Blain’s estate Westerhill, near Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, England, over the weekend of the 27-29 June 2008.
Apart from Dave who, with his partner Meagan, came all the way from Chicago, the rest of the guests, myself and my wife Margaret included, came from England. This was my first time with PEM Friends. Fortunately my son, who lives in the Czech Republic, found Carolyn’s website on the internet and he passed on the information to me. Perhaps I should get a computer!
Socially, the weekend was a great success, thanks to Carolyn and Raymond for their untold selfless and generous hospitality. The free accommodation and unending supply of food and drink was wonderful. On Friday evening, we all enjoyed a splendid meal in The Stables, provided by and shared with Carolyn and Raymond. We were a lively group of eleven, with many shared interests. As there were two Barrys, one small (myself) and one tall, we became known as Big Barry and Little Barry. Big Barry brought along some of his collection of ancient artifacts found during metal detecting excursions and conversation stretched from the treasures he’d brought, and to Dave’s, Raymond’s and my own interest in aviation.
On Saturday, we each followed our own interests. Some went into the centre of Ashton-under-Lyne for shopping (where there’s a big daily market established 700 years ago); Dave and Meagan went to Windermere in the Lake District. My wife and I had a memorable drive to Saddleworth Moor but the weather was a little unkind.
The highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly the Gala Dinner on Saturday evening in Carolyn and Raymond’s lovely home. The ladies dressed up for the occasion, which added a touch of glamour and even the gentlemen made an effort (didn’t we, boys) Dorothy, a pemphigoid sufferer, together with her husband Colin, and Carolyn’s cousin Helen, staying with her from Florida, joined us for the evening, thus making 14 very sociable people. We had an excellent meal and a great time.
During the evening, Carolyn showed Margaret and myself the billiard room with Raymond’s fascinating collections — too numerous to mention. Margaret was particularly thrilled with the 1896 Polyphon, which played There’s No Place like Home. I think she reverted to childhood and wanted to keep putting into the slot one of the Victorian pennies to play it over and over again!
After a late and leisurely breakfast on Sunday morning, we said our farewells and departed for home.
I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that the weekend was not only enjoyable, but also of great value in increasing our knowledge of pemphigus, etc. and it afforded the added bonus of meeting and getting to know such a friendly group of people.
With thanks again to our hosts.