This year, arriving at The Marton Hotel, fondly known as Fawlty Towers, we felt we were upholding the Cook tradition of exploration and adventure so aptly described on his coat of arms: Nil intentatum reliquit (he left nothing unattempted). The floors squeaked, the showers did not work, and the general condition of the hotel section brought second thoughts about our decision to stay there again. But our room on the second floor was quiet, we learned to shower using a teacup in the tub, and made the best of it.
On this trip, we decided on an early arrival, did some laundry in Middlesbrough, took the opportunity to visit the nearby Mount Grace Priory, and made a short hike in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, out of Danby. This year the weather cooperated. As part of my personal pilgrimage, I again paid my respects at the Cook statue in Whitby.
We were very pleased to see Secretary Alwyn Peel greeting attendees in the hotel lobby. Alwyn and I have been in email contact these last two years, and it was wonderful to see him, as animated as I remembered. Shortly thereafter, dinner was served in the dining room, where I had the chance to renew acquaintances made at the last meeting with Steve Ragnall, Harry Ward, Cliff Thornton, and Ian Boreham. During new introductions, because of my "accent", I am frequently asked where I live. My response, "Stockton", is usually met with a quizzical look, and the comment "you don't sound like you are from Stockton (-on-Tees)". When I expand, "Stockton, California", it becomes clear. Though there were no attendees from continental Europe, the North American contingent was well represented. Rumor had it that we were lobbying to move next year's meeting to North America! John Clark, from Victoria, B.C., Canada was making his first visit. Returnees from the USA, besides my wife and I, were Brian Sandford, the CCS agent for America, and his wife Jean from Concord, MA, Martin La Roque, from La Habra, CA, and Charlie and Janice Auth, from Pittsburgh, PA. Charlie was again wearing his striking Hawaiian aloha shirt depicting important scenes from Cook's visits to Hawai'i. He continues to refuse offers to sell the shirt off his back.
After dinner, we moved to the Endeavour Room, where Alwyn told jokes and made announcements. We were disappointed that Vanessa Collingridge, who was to make a presentation about her new documentary TV series about Cook, would be unable to attend because her father was gravely ill. We were informed that her series was soon to be televised in Australia, and might be available for purchase on DVD. Alwyn also advised that he was in possession of a few cases of a fine New Zealand wine, bearing the label "The Captain's", with four different Cook scenes depicted, which were available for purchase out of the boot of his car. He assured us there was nothing illegal about such transactions. Alwyn then introduced Mike Surr, who had with him a lovely potted plant that was not recognized by any of the attendees. Mike offered a taste of this plant, advising, as our mothers might, that although it does not taste good, it is, nonetheless, good for us. Several members took the opportunity to taste the leaves and stems, variously described as bitter, strong, pungent, etc. None found it tasted good. The plant was Scurvy Grass!!! What a treat.
A number of interesting items relating to Cook were on display for viewing. Derek Morris, renowned for his work on the history of Mile End Old Town in London, made a short presentation, illustrated with a hand-drawn map of the area. He announced an upcoming walking tour, and several members made arrangements to participate.