On the afternoon of Tuesday the 24th May 2016, Chilcompton Art Club dispatched four intrepid souls (Nigel Punchard, Della Nation, Amanda Mayes and Susan Brain) to set off for the SAA Open Day of 25th May.

Nigel was the designated driver, and set off to collect Della first. Della was a little surprised that Nigel was a few minutes early, and so quickly had to advise husband John of the whereabouts of his meals for the next couple of days, and to remind him to always turn the gas off. Amanda has just moved to a new home, having upgraded from Peasedown St John, access and departure for the new estate proved a little tricky, but was skilfully negotiated by the chauffer. Onwards to Sue's humble country abode, and after a skilful reversing manoeuvre narrowly missing Sue’s waiting baggage, all passengers were safely loaded up and raring to go.

The majority of the route was familiar to Nigel, and the Satnav was only required for the later stages of our journey as we neared the Travelodge in North Newark, a journey that was a little longer than anticipated due to the front seat passenger Sue’s constant chatter at the critical moments of route updates, this resulted in the chauffer going around several roundabouts at least once or twice in order to get back on track.

Upon arrival Della’s foot developed a fault, and she had to be supported by the nearest hunky male, unfortunately for her she had to make do with Nigel. With the check in at the Travelodge sorted, we headed off to a nearby riverside tavern for an evening meal, luckily this was just a mile down the road and easy to find. A good ‘pub grub’ evening meal was had by all, and quaffed down with wine or beer. The pub had a friendly atmosphere and appeared to be mostly frequented by locals, one of whom was the worse for the consumption of alcoholic beverages and was starting to be a nuisance, fortunately we were leaving before anything kicked off. Della’s foot developed a fault again.

The next morning we ventured into the adjacent Burger King to sample the delights of a cooked breakfast (but not as we know it Jim), Suffice to say it was cooked and warm, although the concept of square flat sausage was a mystery to Sue who had not seen the like of it before. Della’s foot developed a fault again.

A short trip to the SAA HQ, with a few detours around the local roundabouts, and we were set for the rest of the day. Upon arrival at the SAA, Della’s foot developed a fault again, and we were warmly greeted and booked in. The day comprised a pastel workshop given by Vic Bearcroft in which we attempted to re-create one of his masterpieces in the form of a gorilla on velour. There then followed a tour of the World Record Art Challenge, were we saw all 32,283 entries in all their glory.

After a lunch break, we were given access to the SAA shop, and some of us, mentioning no names, apart from Della whose foot developed a fault again, spent more than perhaps we should have, and would have to sneak some things back into our homes upon our return. A short tea break followed, and then it was off for the tour of the warehouse and offices, to see how the whole place works, all very impressive.

The journey home was quieter, because Sue had a snooze, we had a pit stop at the M42 services, were we indulged in some snacks, and surprise, surprise Della’s foot developed a fault again. The last leg of the journey was disrupted by a diversion, due to re-surfacing, that took us away from the A37 at Pensford, and shunted us towards Chew Magna, well it should have been Chew Stoke, but the chauffer did not receive adequate warning of turnings by the three onboard human back seat navigators. The evening was getting late, and the chauffer was getting concerned that he would not make the chippy before they closed, a cause for great concern. With Sue and Amanda dropped off, it was onto Della’s, where surprisingly her foot did not develop a fault and she skipped up her drive to the waiting John.

Nigel managed to reach the chippy before they closed, and availed himself of a fish and chip supper, closely followed by a beer and a large single malt. His wife Linda asked if the trip went well and received a muttered reply about diversions and three women in a car...!!