I attended the UUP pre conference dinner on the Friday night and the weather was cold and crisp and even!
Inside the Ramada Hotel it was a bit warmer. Thankfully. I arrived early and had a quick look into the room and it looked very nice indeed. Having a quick look at the table setup I found myself on table two (Bill Manwaring's table). I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the evening bumping into a lot of old friends and making new ones. In fact i met up with one Councillor Alex Baird via Facebook on the night. Very bizarre but quite fun to see how far we have come with all our methods of connecting with each other. Smartphones and social media really are increasing ways to connect in the real world as well as online. The number of people I am now meeting in the real world that I have created a strong connection with over the virtual world is increasing. This seems to be more and more the way to connect and interact with decision makers.
The new strapline for the Party is 'Determined to deliver' which reminded me of my dinner. Which duly arrived and was of course consumed. Nom nom nom. Well done to all in the Ramada! The meal started with a Roast Pumpkin & Butternut Squash soup with Cinnamon Cream, the main meal was raditional Co. Down King Turkey, Mourne Honey Roast Ham, Sage and Onion stuffing with Chipolatas Turkey Jus and Cranberry Sauce served with Champ and Roast Potatoes, Carrots and Parsnip. Next came Devon Toffee Fudge Cheescake with Raspberry Coulis and all topped of with a Coffee and a Chocolate Mint. I am beginning to feel hungry all over again.
Ross Hussey was compère for the evening with of course speeches from Tom Elliott, Leader of the UUP, and from a representative from the Ulster Chemists Association and the inimitable Glyn Roberts from NIIRTA
And of course what pre-conference dinner would be complete without some after dinner, and 'Da' did not disappoint! I have to say Tim McGarry is like a comedic wine, he has become better over time.
As a round up there were about 160 people at the event and there was a fair amount of lightheartedness, some of it at the expense of Lord Trimble's beard.
So at the end of the night I had lots of shmoozing done, was fully fed and was ready for the drive home through a very frosty and snow ridden night ready to tackle a full day at the UUP conference. Huzzah!