To Holbrook, in heavy drizzle, for a fundraising lunch at the Royal Hospital School, hosted by the High Sheriff on behalf of the East Anglian Air Ambulance and the Suffolk Foundation, we drove, not entirely certain what we'd find.
What we found was a cross-section of Suffolk society, all there for drinks, canapes and a chance to catch up with old friends. Admittedly, there aren't a lot of 'out' Liberal Democrats at these things - not 'our sort of people', I suspect - so it feels a bit like an exercise in anthropology, studying 'suffolkus gentrificus' in its natural environment. In truth, individually they're mostly rather charming, with an old-fashioned sense of courtesy, but they can be rather daunting en masse. Our table companions were charming and entertaining, and what could have been a slightly trying afternoon, surrounded by Tories, turned out to be rather pleasant.
And there were rather a lot of people there, probably three hundred or so, eating a rather nice lunch - I'm usually sceptical about the ability of most venues to deliver that many plates to even an adequate standard - but the Catering Department of the School really did us proud, and the wine flowed freely. That is, for those of us not driving (about half of us, I suppose)...
No fundraising event would be complete without a raffle, although at £20 per envelope (tickets would be almost vulgar...), it's not the sort of raffle I expect to grow accustomed to. And, at least Ros won a cord of firewood, which will come in useful with winter approaching fast.
This was followed by an auction of the sorts of things that I frankly have little personal use for - a hand-crafted sailing boat, a week's salmon fishing, a hydraulic four-wheeled trolley perfect for conveying bales of hay around your estate (must get myself one of those - an estate, that is). However, if you're the sort of person in the market for such things, and I guess that here in Suffolk there certainly are some of those, they are means of raising money for a worthy cause.
We were also entertained by a rather marvellous singer, singing arias by Handel and Puccini, which, given the rather testing acoustics of the venue (I have no idea even now what the High Sheriff actually said at the end), was quite brave, and entirely worth it.
It is astonishing sometimes just how quickly four hours can pass by, and the time had fled by, so we made our excuses and headed out into the gathering dusk, after a rather enjoyable day. It is always nice to enjoy yourself in a good cause, and I hope that the beneficiaries have made a tidy sum from the event.