2014 GATHERING IN HAMILTON 23-25 MARCH
There can be no doubt that this year’s Gathering served up all of the promised excitements and more. Events kicked off with the now traditional Friday night informal dinner. Anne’s researches had turned up “The Foundation” a reasonably new restaurant at Te Awa, The Base (The Base is a gigantic shopping mall on what was the old Air Force Base at Te Rapa). The venue well and truly exceeded expectations. The menu has something for everyone from classic favourites to avante garde cuisine. The presentation and quality was equal to many an eatery charging twice their very reasonable prices. The very competent and pleasant wait staff could not do enough for us – they even volunteered to take our group photo and emailed it to us later.
Saturday morning saw us off bright and early to visit New Zealand’s only home grown tea garden – “Zealong” at Gordonton, north east of Hamilton. The name celebrates the garden’s New Zealand situation and the “oolong” style tea they make there. Despite blustery and chilly weather we were given a tour of the gardens and a formal tea ceremony tasting all of the varieties produced there. This is a truly unique experience in NZ and one well worth trying if you are in Hamilton with a couple of hours to spare. After the excitement of the morning we repaired to the Juke Box Diner and Classic Car and Vintage Collectables Museum in Dinsdale, where we were joined by others, including Jock and Grant.
After refuelling at the Diner it was a trip down memory lane in the Museum – which was being superintended by Les Davidson !!! – which has one of the best collections of vintage and classic cars in NZ. I think we all saw some “blast from the past” that reminded us of our early motoring experiences. Most of us then returned to Aaron Court Motel – our base of operations for the weekend – for a little quiet time before the challenges of the evening to come.
The AGM attracted about 30 members and saw the Societies’ official business transacted for the year – no major dramas in 2014. The Annual Clan Dinner followed. This was a very special occasion this year as we were able to officially recognise and celebrate Jock’s 90th birthday (actual date 27th May). The Address to the Haggis this year was undertaken by Alec Calderwood. Alec is somewhat younger than the usual “addressor” – it is great to see these important traditions kept well and truly alive by a new generation.
The piper for the occasion was Bryan Mitchell, Pipe Major of the Bryan Mitchell piping Chief Jock to the Annual Dinner. Cambridge & Districts Pipe Band. Bryan took the trouble to find the music for Tulloch Castle, a 2/4 March that is the Clan’s anthem. Then to top things off Bryan enjoyed the occasion to such an extent that he composed a new tune which is entitled Clan Davidson Gathering in Hamilton 2014. See the article on page 12. This is the first Davidson pipe composition I can recall in NZ. It would be great if all the Davidson pipers out there could learn it for future use at our Gatherings. After a very enjoyable dinner the evening turned to a formal celebration of Jock’s 90th birthday.
The birthday cake, crafted by Margaret Lambert, featured a photograph of Jock in full regalia – this really had the “wow” factor, as well as being a culinary masterpiece – thank you Margaret! The last stage of the evening was a demonstration of SCOTC by our very own and very talented Jill Mutch. For the uninitiated this Scottish Couture on the Cheap or how to produce stunning fashion wear with a Scottish theme and without breaking the bank. Jill may be officially designated as the Clan Davidson “Show Pony”. Our thanks to Jill – another great example of the range and depth of our “in-house” talent. Sunday morning was very subdued after the exertions of the previous two days, but the incoming Committee got down to business before the parting of the ways. All in all it was a wonderful weekend which will be long remembered.