Not everyone who was asked actually wanted to come. Not everyone who said they’d like to come could actually make it in the end; but those who did come made it a more than worthwhile venture.
John Cameron planned it into a family expedition from Mexico, bringing his wife and 2 young children all the way – presumably to help them appreciate the weather they normally take for granted. Dave Cunningham drove his wife and young daughter up from the South of England. John Hanneken flew over from Geneva with his daughter for just one night. He wanted to be sure to catch up with Ewan Reid, who was flying out to Guatamela on the Sunday, but who still made it. Dave Anderson brought his 16 year old son, Hamish, which was a bit confusing for many of us, as the last time we’d seen Dave, he wasn’t much older – and so we found ourselves continually addressing Hamish for Dave stories.
Gavin Bruce and Ken Thompson from the year above decided they could sense a party, so they brought bits of their families (and most of their golf clubs) down. Finlay brought his pregnant wife, Fiona, and their young daughter Maisie. Finlay’s dad thought it all sounded a bit fun, so he chartered a yacht from Inverkip and recruited his old boy’s rugby teammate Richard Chilcott as weekend crew for a sail around the penisula with a wee stop over in Clachan – where they found the hospitality as warm as the chicken fajitas and the red wine at high tide. My own family seemed keen enough, so Lynn, Ross & Lorna joined the fun at Balinakill house and we all had a ball.
It’s a beautiful old house, where Keil School found itself during the 2nd world war, whilst the Norwegian Navy were installed in Helenslee. Ally McCoists’s grandfather served the McNeil family as a gamekeeper in those days, and that is why we share common alma-mater with the father of one of Scotland’s greatest ever strikers.
The house is now available for a self-catering hire and with 12 stunning en-suite rooms on offer, we certainly picked a great, albeit difficult to get to venue for our 25 year Jubilee celebration. With Tarbert Golf club just an 8-iron down the road, the boys were able to spend Saturday afternoon working off Friday night’s well lubricated reunion, whilst the familes explored the surrounding countryside – with a very fine investment in the beautiful produce available at the farm shop for a Saturday night BBQ to be remembered.
On Sunday most of the boys had to start heading their seperate ways back home and on with their current journeys. Over the years we’ve not always kept in touch, and perhaps we’ll drift apart again, but it was a wonderful gesture by those who did come to make such a big effort to remember and celebrate our shared years at Keil. In these days of social networking, it’s definitely easier to keep a hold of someones contact details – but it’s still a much more worthwhile effort to actually get together for some socialising in the flesh.
Perhaps Balinakill won’t suit everyone. It’s difficult to get to and perhaps expensive for people won’t manage to be away for the minimum amount of time the house needs to be let for, but we certainly all enjoyed it and with Richard reminding us all that the school will be 100 years old soon, perhaps we need to find some bigger way of celebrating that common bond between those of us who learned to Persevere in Hope.
Here’s a bottle and an honest friend
Here's, a bottle and an honest friend! What wad ye wish for mair, man? Wha kens, before his life may end, What his share may be of care, man. Then catch the moments as they fly, And use them as ye ought, man: Believe me, happiness is shy, And comes not ay when sought, man.