I have just returned from 3 days at General Synod. It wasn’t the most controversial Synod, nor the most amusing. There were highlights, as ever, and lowlights for sure. It was my last Synod too for I have served 2 terms of 4 years now. And next year I know that although I may grumble I shall sorely miss not being there. I shall miss seeing the people from around the Province, chatting with Bishops over coffee from Starbucks (and getting to know the staff there too), learning some new and inclusive hymns, worshipping with others at the Daily Offices, and wondering who the new faces are and putting names to them. This year I missed the tweeting community that we’ve had in past years. We were mostly scared off this year which was a pity.
On the Saturday night we always have a dinner at the Caledonian Hotel which is always fun and the question goes round, months ahead of time, ‘Who will be the after-dinner speaker?’ This year it was our very own beloved +Brian Smith who retires in August and he did indeed do us proud.
But let me tell you a little bit about the hotel that put me up for the night. (For those of us who live out of town, one must find somewhere to lay one’s weary head and get changed for the dinner for trains end just as the after-dinner speech is going on.) Months before Synod I had a long trawl with Google’s help looking for that accommodation that you see advertised so often at £19 per night. Of course it doesn’t exist. At least I have never found it no matter how early I look to book. That £19 per night in reality is £89 – at the very least. But sometimes you come across a little hotel right in the perfect location offering a single room WITH a four-poster bed and breakfast for under £60 and you snap it up. It looks homely on the website and homely is good, you think.
Homely is one word to describe it. Tartan is another. Chintz is another. Let’s go for tartan chintz and colours that clash. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that all shades of green go together? Not true. You might wonder at someone who thought red flock wallpaper might go with deep pink. Well might you wonder. And my room was a delightul floral tribute to William Morris on the walls, the ceiling, the four poster drapes, the pictures and the ironing board cover. But let us not forget the turquoise scatter cushion depicting many dachshunds. I fear I shall never forget that.
Dogs were also a theme in this hotel. There was a lovely print of a little girl in Victorian dress with a St Bernards on the staircase, and many doggie paintings in Reception. There was even a bowl of doggie water in the bar. And indeed a real live doggie wandered about throughout our stay. As I am allergic to dogs we didn’t actually make friends but I’m sure one could have if one had wanted.
Let me take you back for a moment to the four-poster bed. It caught your attention too, didn’t it? I’m afraid I don’t know how to transfer photos from my phone but let me assure you it was quite dramatic. And single. Yes, a single four-poster bed. Now, I don’t know why I was surprised at that but I think I just assumed that all four-poster beds were double in size, at the very least. But this was a rather cute little brass-effect number with drapes which did not appear to move which was rather a pity as I did fancy coorying down at night and pulling them round about me. However, dear reader, I must say that it was rather comfortable, although the pillow less so.
I could go on… at length… about the large Buddha at the foot of another set of tartan stairs, of the strange wrought-iron tray ledges cut into the banisters on the landing for what purpose I am not sure, the television with no BBC 1 or 2 but several channels with strange ladies trying to get me to phone them, and the avocado bath suite and utility furniture. But let me briefly touch on breakfast for it was a meal not to be missed. (To be fair, I had been warned but all I can say in my defence is that I was rather peckish.) Down, down into the bowels of the earth we went and were greeted most charmingly by our tattooed waitress, who turned out to be most attentive. (The basement dining room decor was a strange choice of dark maroon retro floral wallpaper everywhere and many chandeliers.) I ordered the Scottish breakfast and waited while it was freshly made, I was told. I especially looked forward to the homemade tattie scone. Well I don’t know in whose home it was made, or indeed how one defines freshly made, but suffice to say I did not finish the breakfast and for several hours after I either had a bad case of indigestion or the beginnings of heart trouble. (I should say that I couldn’t fault the fried egg which was indeed fresh.)
So there we have it. A jolly Synod and an interesting hotel in the perfect location and enough entertainment to keep me going until next year, I reckon.