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  • David Murdoch

Miles across the Sahara Our Men's Evening

Around 30 members of Chester Caledonian Association gathered in the welcoming surroundings Willington Hall. for their Annual Mens’ Supper hosted by Past President, Stuart Begbie. The evening started with a logistical challenge for the events’ secretary, Angus McSween, in that more people turned up than were expected but some chair shifting and cutlery additions soon sorted the problem.

One of the attractions of Willington Hall for the association is the quality of food and, once again, they were not disappointed. A hearty Cock-a-Leekie soup was followed some excellent beef sirloin with a nationalistic Drambuie sauce. The links with the “Auld Country” continued with a Scotch Trifle.

With a good selection of prizes on offer, the raffle was enthusiastically supported but what was the significance of the football signed by Partick Thistle players? Possibly linked to the President, Sandy McLennan’s Glaswegian nostalgic recollections of football or was it something to do with Mike Martin?

Another Past President, Miles Tutton, provided the post-prandial entertainment with a presentation entitled "Miles Across the Sudan" describing his experiences of crossing the region on holiday whilst a medical student. After flights from the UK via Entebbe, his Sudan adventure essentially followed the course of the River Nile through Khartoum, Wadi Haifa and finishing the African leg in Cairo. Being a student, cost was a major factor in the choice of transport and his descriptions of sleeping on a luggage rack in a ramshackle train, barges roped together as boats plus the odd camel trip were fascinating. What added to the presentation was the use of illustrations referring to his original journey complemented by contemporary pictures of a subsequent expedition and the state of the country today. Miles’s trip took place before the country split into two in 2011 to become North and South Sudan so the civil war was still a problem.

Of particular interest was the section of the journey describing the many structures from Ancient Egypt Civilisations lining the banks of the Nile although many of the audience were surprised to learn that Sudan actually has more pyramids than Egypt. The size of the Temple at Abu Simbal really brought home the scale of the engineering involved in re-locating theses structures to avoid the rising waters behind the Aswan Dam.

The African leg of his journey finished in Cairo followed by a flight to Athens. As a nice illustration of how life has changed since the 1970’s, he hitch-hiked from Athens to Zurich. Can you imagine doing that today? His trip finished with a train journey from Zurich to Preston, safely home after a fascination journey.

The applause after his talk indicated that his audience had enjoyed the presentation.

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