Saturday, 21 May 2011

Hello great Harrogate

So here I am, back from my conference in Harrogate, and I'm glad to report that it went very well. Phew!
We travelled up on Monday and it took about five hours, with a stop somewhere in the middle of England. I think we notched up six motorways altogether - M50, M5, M42, M1, M18 and A1(M). Rather weary, we arrived at the very nice Old Swan Hotel which turns out to be an old nineteenth century Hydro establishment, but completely done up about five years ago. Its claim to fame is that it's where Agatha Christie turned up when she did her famous 11 days vanishing trick in 1926.
I soon met up with colleagues from all over the UK and Ireland, plus faces from Canada, USA, Australia. And India - yes a CMI from Kottayam in Kerala sat next to me in the talks - that's Fr T and Fr James' religious order and province. They are everywhere!  I spotted Fr Frank Morrissey - my professor from Ottawa in the 1980s and Canon Law hero - if that is possible... Food was good, rooms were big and very comfy. I slept well, which I needed after Holy week etc. The conference organizers always get top speakers, and this year we welcomed Cardinal Burke, an American who is sort of minister for Justice at the Vatican.
Wednesday afterrnoon and evening were free, so we went for a drive in Wensleydale and discovered the lovely ruins of Jervaulx Abbey with accompanying tea-rooms. In the evening we were guests of the Southwark guys at a lovely restaurant in the town, William and Victoria. Unfortunately some of my gorgeous lamb shank fell in its scrummy gravy and splashed all over me - shades of another incident in the bar at our hotel in Krakow... 
Thursday afternoon the five of us present involved in the National Tribunal for Wales held a summit to review our progress over almost four years. It all needed streamlining and I have taken my time in pressing for reform in our procedures. To my amazement everyone agreed to the proposed adaptations, and we were all done in 75 minutes. Alleluia! Seriously, it is a great relief to me...
And so the last day came, and some of us realized we had not ticked off the main site in lovely Harrogate. It's a beautiful town, hilly, green with trees, flowerbeds and lawns, strewn with fine hotels and residences, scattered with little shops and tearooms. But reigning supreme is Betty's Tearooms, so after our last session and having put our bags in the car, three of us repaired to Bettys' for some excellent coffee and cakes.
Another five hour journey brought us back after a high-scoring five days. Harrogate - Fr M approves, Old Swan - Fr M approves, William and Victoria - Fr M approves, new-look National Tribune Fr M approves (well he would). Last and not least,  Betty's Tearooms - Fr M approves - defo. 

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