Our festive frivolities have gained a rather notorious status…and thankfully this year was no different
By Katie Garner
Despite having an interesting and varied range of social activities scheduled throughout the year, nothing brings members together like the incentive of a three course meal, bountiful booze and the wink of nearby Christmas cheer. We usually have between 10 and 15 members for our monthly get togethers, but as soon as December strikes, the glad rags are itching to make an appearance as a celebratory fervour sees the majority of members arrive for a Christmas party like no other.
As in past years, Wychelm’s Christmas excitement rocked up at our usual haunt – The Liberty Bell, Romford’s finest Premier Inn with a speciality in posh pub grub and traditional English classics. Although we had chosen a rather suspicious date of Friday 13th, I was sure that everything would go swimmingly, as we kicked things off with pre-dinner drinks at 7.00pm before sitting down at our allocated tables at 7.30pm. This year we once again had nabbed the smaller, quieter area next the bar that has more privacy and a more secluded section feel to it. We were spread out over three tables with a grand total of 24 people attending, which is our largest outcome to date. Our recent boost in membership had resulted in a few new faces gracing their first Wychelm Christmas tables, such as cheeky chappie Craig and flick serve supremo Joel. Frank had once again donned his novelty tie, while the ladies had gone all upmarket swapping our trainers for heels and lycra sportswear for lace, silk and fabulous dresses.
Liberty Bell had a new festive menu this year, so we had the opportunity to tuck into some new choices. They really do have a fantastic deal on their festive menu as you get a three course set menu for simply £15 a head, which such value for money when you consider the quality of the food and the decent portion sizes. I started with the chicken liver pate, served with sticky chutney relish, slices of wholemeal toast and a scattering of leaves for edible garnish. Totally tasty and whetting the appetite, I was still checking out other people’s choices, which included a tomato soup, breaded mushrooms and also the classic prawn cocktail. For mains, I had opted for one of my favourites – steak. Served with chips, the steak was served with a creamy mushroom sauce. The meat was perfectly tender and cooked to my usual medium rare with diligence. I couldn’t help but wolf down the food, accompanied by the sweet and fruity Blossom Hill rose wine that John T had kindly bought Jess and I a bottle of.
Dessert is normally my favourite course as I have an undeniable sweet tooth…especially where chocolate is concerned. You should have seen my eyes light up when I spotted the chocolate and mandarin sundae on the menu. I adore sundaes so this combination was ticking all of my boxes! In the end, it was just various flavoured ice creams with some chocolate sauce and fruity bits so a bit less glamorous and exciting as I was anticipating, but still a delicious conclusion to the food. The Liberty Bell now serve Costa coffee and although coffee and tea were not included in our set price, many of us still decided to finish in this traditional way. I settled on a simple white coffee in an attempt to dilute the second bottle of wine that John had given us.
Between our main courses and dessert, anticipation was in the air as I stood and chinked my cutlery against my wine glass. Yes, The Wychelm Christmas Awards 2013 had arrived and they had arrived in style, with some swish new medals and a glossy certificate. We kept all of the categories from last year, but added on a couple more so there were more winning opportunities for people to grab. We had 12 awards in total, with a couple of double winners proudly holding their numerous medals aloft while some first time winners shyly read their certificates and tucked the navy medal ribbon about their necks. I love the awards as they always have such a buzz about them, especially now that we have introduced the nomination form, and members get to pick their own winners. It makes it all the more intriguing as to who is going to win, and I must say I find it incredibly insightful reading all of the forms!
Mike F was lugging home the silver wear again this year, in his second year of being a double winner, taking both The Sneaky Shots and Best Serve awards. Our second double winner of the evening was medical student Jess, who was crowned the queen of both Delicate Dropshots and Nifty Net play. Our over-competition tube driver Gary was thrilled to have his on court prowess recognised with the very manly Big Smasher award, while our belly sliding wonder and weirdly enough another train driver, Steve H earned himself the exhausting Roadrunner award. Our loveable treasurer Nick nabbed Best Newcomer, which was extremely well deserved. Despite being at Wychelm for under a year, he is on the club committee with his financial role, a regular on the men’s team and a reserve for the mixed. Well and truly stepping up to the plate and joining Frank as part of the furniture it’s fantastic to see a newbie so well ensconced in club life.
Talking about Frank, he took home one of our new awards this year, the Best Signature Shot award, for his acclaimed disguised dropshot. Our second new award was for the Most Social Player, which teacher Helen took great joy in claiming. The Walking Wounded award was given to Troy, who always seems to have his knees extremely well strapped after he had surgery a while back now. Our last new award was the Squadster Star award, and my way of saying thank you to a player on one of the teams representing Wychelm. It’s no easy task taking on the league games, especially when we are considered quite small fry in the pond, but all of the effort is very much appreciated, so this one was given to our secret weapon – the deceptively explosive Barry, who is on both our men’s and mixed teams, partnering Nick and Helen respectively. I would also like to say a big thank you to all the people who voted for me to win the Best Committee Member award – it’s always nice to see that all the hard work and effort is appreciated by the people you are trying to please! What was hilarious about the awards this year, were the random surrounding tables who were joining in and applauding the winners as well as they received their goods!
We stayed at Liberty Bell until we got booted out, where a selection of us then headed on to a nearby Wetherspoon’s, The Moon and Stars for another drink. We then got booted out of there, so we headed across the road to local nightspot Cameo, which used to be called Envy and by which name it is still better known. Expecting 80’s classics as explained by our social starlet of the night Helen, we actually unexpectedly stumbled across ‘Really Rock Night’. Probably not quite what we had in mind, but for a fiver entry we weren’t about to change our minds, so we attempted head banging while Noel and Sarah invented a badminton dance, performing different shots in time to the beat / noise.
With people beginning to disperse around 2.30am from the final crowd, we knew it had been a good night. Always a highlight in the Wychelm social calendar, it is an event I always look forward to, although one year I would die from shock / jump with glee / be immensely proud if people actually remembered their menu orders! Thank you to every single member who attended and I hope you had a fabulous evening! Roll on 2014 – I’ve got some ideas for next year’s socials already up my badminton glove!