How had I found myself in this position? Well, the previous year I had retired, and I was looking for something far removed from the commercial sector. I decided to join the Education Team at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby, as a volunteer guide. I was thoroughly enjoying it, so decided to become a member of the Captain Cook Society as well, in order to keep up to date with developments in this wide field.
Sophie Forgan, Chairman of Trustees at the Museum, then encouraged me to attend the event in Marton. I said “yes”. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? But, as I pushed open the reception doors, it suddenly didn’t seem so easy. I wheeled my suitcase to reception, and was handed my room key.
Initial fears of “where to go” and “what to do” were immediately calmed by a smiling welcome party, already in place in reception, led by Alwyn Peel. I was handed my badge and agenda. A kind offer to take me into dinner, when I was ready, calmed my nerves, and banished any fears of me being sat by myself in the corner! And the company at dinner that evening was delightful.
The next day, Saturday, we all travelled a short distance to the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum in Marton, where a very interesting selection of talks had been arranged. These included:
- An explanation of the classification techniques used by Banks and Solander during the Endeavour voyage by Edwin Rose;
- An audio-visual display of the life story of Captain Edward Riou (a midshipman in Discovery) by Steve Ragnall;
- A reading of various poems about Captain Cook by the author himself, Patrick Lodge;
- An insight to the archaeological history of Great Ayton’s Cook Cottage by Ian Pearce and John Robinson.
I found the talks to be diverse, entertaining and illuminating, and the expert chairmanship of Ian Boreham made the day fly by!
After the meeting closed, an auction was held at the hotel of stamps and other Cook memorabilia. It was followed by dinner. After that, all members retired to a private room for entertaining stories, and conversation amongst a very friendly group, some of whom had travelled from Germany and Canada.
As I left on Sunday, I reflected on a weekend during which I had met some lovely people, learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Was I initially Doubtful? Yes.
But was it Sound? Indeed it was.
I had a wonderful time and will certainly be back next year!
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 66, volume 43, number 1 (2020).