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Lancaster 99
Lancaster - 11th April 1998
With the onset of the spring of 1999, and the traditional start of the busy season in the garden, it came to pass that it was time once more for an urg-meet, time to discuss the horticultural schemes and plans hatched over the long, wet, winter evenings, time to trade all manner of carefully nurtured cuttings and seedlings, and time to stuff our faces with lots of yummy delicacies.

And so, upon the 11th Day of April, intrepid urglers from select parts of this land did come to meet at Mearghyll, the enchanting residence of Jane and Graham Ransom in the County of Lancashire. Even the notoriously fickle April weather played its part, and managed to hold off the rain until early evening (mind you,when it did start, it absolutely p*ssed it down!), allowing the junior members to be booted outside to lay waste to the local flora and fauna, while the senior members had their lunch in peace.

The text from the post-meet report posted to urg follows, interspersed with photos taken, usually without the subject's knowledge, by Andy Mabbett, who conveniently omitted any photos of himself, and to whom all complaints should be addressed. :-)

For the first time in living memory, the cormaic clan were not the last to arrive! This was entirely due to bad planning on our part, and if we had indeed turned back to pick up the Hotpot that Mrs Taz had left on the stove, we would surely have kept alive the tradition of never, ever being on time. Kay and Edward
Kay and Edward
cormaic and Mrs Taz
Mrs Taz and cormaic
We had barely got our coats off before Kay, with her husband, Edward, her Father, Alan, and the two boys, Laurence and Malcolm, came rolling up the driveway. Tea and coffee were dispensed to refresh the travellers and the junior members were despatched to the 'pool room' on the opposite side of the house to continue their bickering and squabbling, while the senior members hid in the conservatory.
An hour or so of chat, gossip and near-homeopathic tea followed (Jane does not partake of strong tea, preferring to threaten each potful with a couple or three leaves), and soon it was time for the first feed of the day, a mouth-watering chicken curry with rice. Graham
Graham (the Spousal Unit) tucks into lunch
Jane
Jane and her fantastic rockery
After lunch had rightly been allowed to settle, Le Grand Tour commenced, starting with the hill-side that is Jane's Rockery, and continuing on to Ransom Island in the middle of the wildlife pond. A sickly looking holly demanded our attentions, but none of us had a clue what the problem is, and so we drifted on, past the woodshed and down to Graham's newly-cleared Dingly Dell, where a particularly interesting but unknown plantlet was spotted and abruptly killed when Graham tried to mark its position by shoving a dead twig through its roots.
On past the house, and the shedder instincts of Edward, Alan and Graham drew them into the garage, like filings to a magnet, to look at mowers and pumps and tools and gadgets, whilst the rest of us pushed on, via the vegetable patch, to find yet another peaky-looking shrub, who's name escapes me, barely managing to survive with only 2 healthy leaves. This brought us back around to the top of the rockery, where various methods for constructing a filter drain were mooted, to protect Jane's precious alpines from the deluge that cascades over the rocks in prolonged heavy rain. Alan
Alan, Kay's Father and honorary urgler
Edward and cormaic
Edward and cormaic discuss web-rings
The boys returned from their fiddling in the garage, and a fairly one-sided debate ensued, the motion being that Graham has too much lawn, and ought to let Jane dig out more beds. The possibility of creating a full-size neolithic henge in the centre of the lawn was also proposed, but Graham was turning quite pale by then, and so the traditional Plant Swap was arranged, just as the weather started to turn for the worse.
Mrs Taz's cacti, lovingly potted up only the night before, had fallen victim to one of her over-sharp turns during their journey north, but most of the other plants had survived, even the ones that Andy had brought, potted up in vending machine coffee cups! Hellebore seedlings, Loganberry canes, Ivy-leaved Pelargoniums, Bearded Irises, Fuchsias and a hundred other species all were exchanged. Jane and Kay
Jane and Kay consulting the RHS Bible
Once all the swops had been arranged, we retreated to the conservatory for more tea and biccies, including a new product sold under the name 'Yum-Yums'. These 'Yum-Yums' have now been thoroughly tested by those urglers present at the meet, and you will all be relieved to know that we can heartily recommend them to all of you who couldn't be there, but it must be borne in mind that they are far too good for children.
It was about then that we spotted Slug Boy, egged on by Malcolm, Laurence and Pester Girl, scaling the roof of the Woodshed, hauling his gangly frame upwards with a tie-strap misappropriated from the back of the van. A reprimand fortissimo encouraged him to get down immediately, and the lot of them scarpered off to where we couldn't see them. Mrs Taz and Pester Girl
Mrs Taz and Pester Girl
Jane
Last word to our glamorous hostess, Jane
More tea, more biccies, a couple of Lemon Tortes, breadsticks and dips, a general discussion of anything and everything, endless reference to the big RHS book, and sneaky Andy with a digital camera filled the next couple of hours, and before long, the grey clouds had turned black, and the rain moved in. The junior members had to come in, but Alan kindly whisked them all away to the 'pool room' while the rest of us nattered on, and the next thing we knew, dusk was upon us.
We moved from the conservatory into the lounge, and started a discussion on how we could cajole and/or tempt more urglers to attend future meets - if you've never been to one, you're missing out on a great time, not to mention all the free plants and the impressive quantities of food.
Time rolled on, and still the rain was hammering down, but it was time to go. We wrapped up tight and warm, and ventured out into the foul night to load up all the plants and kids, and bade or farewells to one and all, before setting off along the twisting country lanes, heading for home.

Great meet, and we even came home in the same van that we set out in, which is a bonus! Thanks to Jane and Graham for their fantastic hospitality, and to everyone else who joined in and helped make the day really special. If future urg-meets are only half as enjoyable as this one, they will be well worth attending. :-)

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The Credits

Hosting and catering by Jane and Graham
Additional catering by Kay and Edward
Pictures by Andy Mabbett, say no more ;-)
Creche organised by Alan
Aggravation by Pester Girl, Malcolm, Laurence and Slug Boy

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