Burns Night Social - 2024Monday 22 January
ESOC’s Burns Night festivities featured a score orienteering activity in and around the Burdiehouse Burn, Liberton, followed by the legendary ESOC Burns supper. Eleanor Pyrah (planner of the orienteering) sent this report.
The ESOC Burns Supper is always one of the most successful socials on the ESOC calendar and, with an attendance of nearly 40, this year was no exception. We were warmly welcomed to the home of Mark and Jeni Rowe at Highbrae, Liberton, a new venue for most of us, and there was much anticipation as the ladies bearing laden dishes were seen to arrive and be ushered through to the kitchen. It is traditional that the 'Monday Ladies' provide the vegetable accompaniments to the Supper and a variety of desserts, while the host provides the Haggis. Mark and Jeni were also supervising the whole proceeding.
But, first things first, another tradition is that of the pre-Supper orienteering element. Despite the threat of Storm Isha and the messages which had been sent out assuring everyone that they didn't really have to venture out if they didn't want to, and would be just as welcome to come for the meal only, twenty-two assorted folk assembled at the front door at 6:50pm and were issued with their maps. As planner, I had decided on a 45 minute score format with a stiff penalty for late return, 1 point for every second late, to encourage everyone to come back in good time so that we could all get on with our Supper! To counter this, there was a lottery element whereby participants were given a sheet showing 3 possible answers for each control and were encouraged to hazard a guess for any control they didn't visit, the thought being that this would level the playing field somewhat. So it was 10 points for each control visited and correctly matched to one of the listed serial numbers/lamppost codes or whatever, plus 10 points for each correct guess for controls not visited. How fair this was judged to be, I am not sure, but it did result in some close scoring.
There was one clear winner, Walter, who managed to visit every control in 43 minutes 27 seconds and thus scored the full 210 points. Second was Terry, who had left out 3 of the controls but was lucky to guess right for 2 of these and so scored 200. In 3rd place, with only 2 wrong answers, was Richard with 190 points in a time of 44:54, although some faulty adding up during the self-marking process meant that he wasn't credited with this on the night! Next we had Nigel who, after a long-time absence from the orienteering scene, scored 180 with no penalties.
Winner of the ladies was Lucie with 170 points. She actually scored 200 but incurred a 30 second penalty for lateness. Then in joint 2nd place we had four with a final score of 160. These were Heidi, Katherine, Alexis (a new junior member running with mum Amanda) and Sheila, although Sheila, like Richard, had not credited herself with enough points in the self-marking process! If Sheila and Richard would like to claim their shortbread prizes they should see me!
As it turned out, the storm abated and did not present any real difficulty except that one section of path running parallel to the Burdiehouse Burn, and a legitimate route choice, had been flooded by the swollen burn and was apparently completely under water! On my reconnaissance visits this tarmac path had been firm and dry. I was well aware however that some other small off-road sections were extremely muddy and on one I had used reflective tapes to show the best way through the woodland and across a low fence. All good fun!
With muddy footwear removed and after a general smartening of attire, it was time then for the main event. All assembled in the living area, we were thrilled to hear the sweet sound of a fiddler playing "A Man's a Man for a' That", as Mark entered from the kitchen with laden platter. The haggis was paraded twice around the house before coming to rest on the dining table and there was Peter Coutts, knife in hand all ready to Address it! We have become accustomed over the years to hearing Peter's excellent rendition of Rabbie Burns but the fiddle music was something new. The violinist was Carolyn Dyson, another new and very welcome member of ESOC. Plenty of time then to eat, drink and chat with friends, old and new, before it was time for speeches, prize-giving and finally a joining of hands for Auld Lang Syne, encircling Carolyn, our violinist perched on the central stairs.
A final hearty thanks to Mark, Jeni and their children, Adam and Catherine, for welcoming us into their home, and particularly to Mark for organising this and the whole social programme that continues throughout the year.
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