The Gentlemen's Ale Sampling Society

        1982-2017  35 YEARS OF BEERS









14 GASS members went for a  week of sun, sea and sand.  Nice hotel, nice location.


As you can see from the photo below, we dressed for the occasion in the evenings,





And then relaxed on the beach, undressed, during the day.  Which look do you prefer?




To be honest we didn't look like that all the time, we actually spent 99% of the whole week relaxing round the pool at our very pleasant hotel.  Amazingly the hotel was actually full, and from that fact one would normally presume an 0600 attack on the Kraut Towel Division of the Sunbed Assault Brigade, but weirdly no.  Leisurely breakfast, wander onto the pool deck around 11'ish, select a group of 14 beds near each other, and Bob was your proverbial uncle.  Strange people golfers, it seemed that apart from us 98% of the hotel guest were either golfers or possibly Vampires, in any case they plainly did not like the sun. 


The plan prior to our spending a week in one place, seven whole days as opposed to the normal 3-4, was that some activities would be arranged before going out there.  That plan changed to arranging the activities on arrival.   That plan changed when we got there and morphed into us spending days 1-2-3-4-5 talking about activities, and then cramming a couple into the last two days.  Best laid plans etc!


Part of the reason for the lack of activities (as opposed to the lack of plans, of which there were many), was that it was so damn relaxing just chilling by the pool.  Vilamoura is a very nice place.  Big enough to offer lots of choice by way of bars, restaurants and clubs, crowded enough for everywhere to be buzzing but not so bad you could not get a table, trendy enough to have an upper end and a lower end in restaurants, in fact a real Goldilocks venue, not too much, not too little.  It suited GASS down to the ground and so we simply went with the flow.  Lunch at beach bars, dinner in various restaurants, meet at The Cabin Bar for drinks after.  No complaints.  Despite that there were some things we did that are worthy of note.....






Phil was tasked with arranging the Beach Olympics, and boy!, did he arrange!  First he bought up every beach toy within 20 miles, then he prevaricated for what seemed like days.  "Let's do it now - no let's not do it at all - it's too windy - it's too hot - it's the wrong sort of sand - nobody loves me - I'm going to eat worms.....  and so on, hour after hour.   Finally we could not stand it any longer and picked him up, picked up all his toys and strode manfully down to the beach to Olymplicasize the hell out of the place. 


Sadly, one among us could not stride manfully.  Brian had arrived on holiday with a badly sprained ankle and was having serious difficulty striding at all, more a sort of weird hobble.  Andy very kindly took pity on him and out of the kindness of his heart (and out of his own wallet which GASS really must refund!) paid to hire a wheelchair for Brian.  Sheer luxury!  The guys wheeled him onto the sand, through the sand, onto the foreshore, and straight into the waves.  Much to the consternation of the locals who actually started to get up to effect a rescue attempt.  Obviously Portugal has a better record in how they treat their 'Raspberry Ripples'! 


Having a ready made umpire in Brian the games got underway.  The opening ceremony consisted of Phil laying down the most arcane, convoluted, complicated, asinine, daft, illogical and unworkable (get my point?) rules you have ever heard for Beach Football, Beach Rounders, Bat & Ball, Throw the Ball in the Sea and Chase it, Push the Ripple in the Sea again, and some more games too difficult to describe.  The results were, predictably, confused, contested, argued and disputed.  Here Phil came into his own.  To describe him as controlling is an understatement.  Ho took CHARGE!  He DECIDED!, He ADJUDICATED!.  We were still none the wiser, but had a real laugh.  Many thanks Phil.  Many thanks must also go to 'The Turtle of Truth' without whose wise and sagacious words we would have fallen on each other in a massive punch-up. Who would have though such wisdom would come from a big green blow up toy that only communicated through telepathy with Phil, truly amazing.









Once the Beach Olympics were over and the sun went down, it was out on the town.  By this time Brian was losing interest in his wheelchair, partly due to the increasing number of attempts on his life.  The attempt to push him down a steep hill into the harbour was a deal breaker.  However, this did not put Hugh off having a go.  Sadly his bottle went at 30mph and he bailed.  Fortunately 'Diggerland' trousers are made of sterner stuff than tarmac, and other than a dislocated kneecap Hugh was fine.  Certainly fine enough to persuade Brian to trust him to push again, this time straight into the oncoming traffic on the main road.  Car after car swerved aside until one just stopped dead, flashed his lights and honked his horn.  Brian sat stoically thinking Hugh would give up and push him to the side.  No, Hugh had left minutes earlier, leaving Raspberry sitting apparently defiant in the middle of a main road.  Luckily Hugh took pity on his charge and came and got him, just to race him round a pedestrian precinct like a demented loon.  Gary was nearby and asked a Doorman at a club if they had wheelchair access and the Doorman replied "If you mean for those two f**king idiots, then no chance".  Seconds later Hugh and Ripple appeared out of a alley, screaming like banshees (well Brian was), raced the ramp and disappeared inside the club before the Doorman could draw a breath!!


The postscript to this story is that in fact Brian had a completely ruptured Achilles tendon the whole time.  He had had it for three weeks, he had driven 2,000 miles, walked about 50 miles, and it was not diagnosed until another three weeks later.  Some complimented him on his high pain threshold, most just thought he was a know-it-all dickhead who did not trust doctors.  The truth was it was misdiagnosed at Hospital and the poor man simply did his best to hide his pain and struggle through until the final complex operation to stitch him back together and enjoy eight weeks in a cast!  Serves him right! On the plus side he made the AGM!










The next major event, some would say THE major event was Steve's 50th.  Steve selected an excellent Tapas restaurant for lunch at his expense, and what an excellent lunch it was.  'Dinger Bell' did us proud.   "DING-DONG!" was the phrase of the day.  The staff were excellent (see photo below, the food was excellent and the pud, in the shape of an enormous Baked Alaska was, you guessed it, excellent!  Steve happily posed with his birthday bottle of cheap Port, expensively sign written to look like it had been bottled on his birthday.  No seriously, well done to Pete, Nick and John for finding it with an hour to spare.  GASS only had 30 years notice of this momentous day and it still went down to the wire. 


At the table we ran a sweepstake on the average age of GASS members and the answers ranged far and wide with the correct answer being 57.9.  Gary won the 50, which he gave to Nick, ostensibly for the whip, which shows just how trusting Gary is of Blackheart and his understanding of Whip-based issues.  Andy was still suffering from his appalling stewardship of the previous whip when he was persuaded to spend everything in his possession on just six members in his group, thus depriving the others of half a glass of Shandy each, he never heard then end of it, so everyone was running whip-shy, except he of the Rhino-hide skin who simply folded up the cash and put it away, for later, of course.













We also enjoyed a day out on a sailing ship - well most of us enjoyed it.  All sat firmly still as it tossed and turned in six foot waves, hands gripping the rigging, one hour up the coast, one hour back down, great fun.  Must do it more often.  Phil C particularly enjoyed it and spent almost all the time standing on the pointy bit, occasionally leaning right over, possibly to look at the anchor, which for some reason he had christened Ralph.  This was only a couple of days after a smaller group had done much the same on a 'Marlin Fishing Trip', a local Portuguese tourist joke where they take you out in a small boat, motor 10 miles, bob around, explain how difficult it is to catch Marlin, then motor back.  Again, un-missable.  Hugh particularly enjoyed that trip, and he too kept looking into the sea in search of the elusive Ralph.








In the aptly named Navy Bar, a nice walk away on the front.  We did create a stir.  It had taken a bit of cajoling to get everyone downstairs in Naval Uniforms, but don't they look dashing.  Many a tourist mistook us for the crew of a Russian trap steamer, but we soon put them right, sorry madam, just another bunch of English wallies. 


The AGM itself was a bit of a quiet event, poor Ron was off sick and so there were no annual accounts, there was an attempt to discuss future meetings but that was adjourned, the Managing Director gave an upbeat assessment of the year gone by which went down well with those who can read without glasses, the great Andy Whip Scandal was raked over again, sleeping on the job was discussed, self-diagnosing medical issues was mentioned (and this is before the real diagnosis of Brian's foot was out), new nicknames for Phil R came up, mainly 'Face', and finally there was a proposal for a GASS 'E' Index (E for eccentricity) with Hugh as the baseline with a maximum of 10.  On the bright side we continued to look dashing and attract attention wherever we went. 









Right up until somebody took Steve's battery out.





Another great year, another great AGM, well done everyone!




Full details on the AGM page, click here - AGM 2013