The Gentlemen's Ale Sampling Society

        1982-2017  35 YEARS OF BEERS




AGM - 2011


VARNA - GOLDEN SANDS RESORT - A beach resort in Bulgaria;jsessionid=B3EF53B51A14D8D7F673CC3C292FCE6F.etc56


Apologies for absence:   Ray, Don, Neil, Stuart.  Steve R and Al.


As is the new system, we all turned up on time, with passports and tickets, and we all made the plane.  The bus was there to greet us and the hotel expected us.  The hotel was as advertised, very nice, very smart, and the beers and food were indeed free.  So far, so good.  We set off on the traditional first-night recce and that is where the wheels, if not falling off, did start to wobble on their bearings a little.


Golden Sands did appear to have a smidge more of the Kiss-me-Quick element to it than we had hoped.  But we kept our chins up and our hands on our wallets as we walked through what amounted to an extended version of Margate in the 1950's.  However,  we finally found a nice bar that played live music, so we wandered in.  I say we wandered in, one us must have changed his wander to a stagger, as there was an enormous bang and a shower of broken glass from what we later identified as a large glass ashtray making explosive contact with the floor.  JB clutched his swede, and blood flowed liberally as he removed a large sliver of class from his lughole.



Though to be fair to Golden Sands, that was out fault, not theirs!


However, their weird impression of Paris was very much their fault - and really difficult to explain..


And the five star hotel should definitely re-think their tie up with this appalling beach bar and their crazy idea of what constitutes a beach lunch.

However, as Nick so rightly pointed out (day in day out) "the beers are free".





Luckily for us we had a once in four year occurrence.  The AGM coincided with Steve Bell's birthday and Steve did us proud.

By this time we had worked out that there was two parts to Golden Sands, Craptown and Nicetown.

Craptown was where we were situated, nice hotel, but located above the shitty end.

Nicetown was a bus ride, or a one mile slog, away, but well worth it.

In Nicetown we had located an excellent restaurant which did a lovely line in Roast Pig.

Steve, with amazing generosity, treated the whole of GASS to a slap-up lunch, so many thanks Steve!!!!









Having filled our boots courtesy of Steve we wandered on to find another of Nicetown's delights, a cocktail bar with a pool.

This became the afternoon haunt, until we were barred as a result of a small incident with Hew and about 20 cocktails.  Nuff said.










For a true one-off we decided that we would have the very first totally FREE Annual General Meeting.

Courtesy of our all-inclusive hotel we enjoyed a private room, unlimited wine, and a lovely dinner, all for nothing.

Or as Nick pointed out (day in day out), "not actually free, just included in the price".



Then it was out on the town again




Certain members know how to comport themselves when representing the United Kingdom in a foreign land.  Others don't.

Needless to say Steve, John and Brian were sent back to get changed, Hew was roundly applauded everywhere he went.

Hew went through no less than three of these hats and about twenty garlands between the AGM and walking in through his front door back in the UK.

Aside from wearing this garb continuously for three days he also starred as a Gypsy Violinist and nearly got lynched by the big guy in the photo.



Mind you, he was not alone in dressing oddly.......








To be fair to the perverts and deviants above the purpose of this was to get the definitive GASS photo of the trip.


Below are three lovely shots, I could not work out my favourite - which do you prefer?  Answers on a postcard please.






Well, there you have it, another fun year away!


Now down to business, the meet of the AGM.  I will keep it short and I put it here only for the record.





1.  FINANCIAL DIRECTORS REPORT:  Not a bad year, bearing in mind the crazy meetings we had, a lot of which were very expensive.  Broadly we are 700 down on the ideal bank balance of 5,000 at the year end.  The FD uses the term 'Bank Balance' loosely as he still manages to hold what he quaintly calls a 'Cash Account'.  That 700 will have to be found somewhere, somehow, but we can worry about that later, rather like the EU does.  We agreed to 'kick the can down the road' on that one.


2.  MEMBERSHIP FEES 2012:  The fees have been 40 since 2006!  Amazing when you think what we get for them.  It was agreed that because we want to retain every single existing member of GASS, and we appreciate that some people miss more meetings than others, then it was fairer to apply the occasional surcharge of 20 to the big meetings, thus charging those actually there, than to raise fees for everyone.  It was also mentioned that members may take more into account that GASS can't pay for everything.  It makes sense to start the GASS whip when a reasonable number have arrived at a venue, and to finish it when the first few people start leaving.  It is also reasonable for members to think about not ordering the most expensive drinks or the most expensive menu items.  That way we will take any pressure off the budget and allow us to continue to have great meetings.  Just be prepared to pay the odd extra 20 at big meetings and we will be fine.


3.  THE MANAGING DIRECTORS REPORT:  A very good year overall with some great meetings.  The M.D made the point that organising meetings is not particularly hard, what was hard was coming up with new ideas.  We have a pretty good bank of ideas built up but if you see something you think might work then pass it on to Brian by email.  We need good new pubs, new restaurants, new ideas, just keep them coming boys!  To check the meetings list click here MEETINGS 2012


4.  ELECTION OF OFFICERS:  The M.D made the point that as GASS is a 20,000 a year venture then it needed good officers, not pressed men.  The meeting agreed that John would remain Chairman, Brian would remain M.D, Ron would remain F.D.  I can't for the life of me remember who was made Fines Officer, but I do remember we did agree that if you are fined  you have to pay up with good grace and a smile!


4.  THE AGM 2012 - OUR THIRTIETH YEAR:  It is our big one, the 30th year of our existence.  An amazing feat really.  The main idea on the table remains LAS VEGAS.  The cost of a non-stop flight and four nights in a great hotel on the Strip were cheaper than the Varna trip this year.  Brian is going to Las Vegas in November and will recce the costs and the suitability.  However, the world is our oyster.  Cape Town, Bejing, Ho Chi Min City, Recife (Brazil), Cuba, were all mentioned.  The point being it would be great if we could all make it.  So please try and keep a diary space in September next year and start saving!


And on that note the meeting closed.


As does this set of minutes!


We all had a great time and made it home safe...............


Oh, no we didn't!


Pete made our journey home SO much funnier.  First by sneaking past security to jump on board with the 'speedy boarders', thus ensuring the computer had him still placed in the terminal.  "Would passenger Farrer please make his way to the departure gate as the plane is waiting to take off" was heard in the terminal.  "Is there a passenger Farrer on board" was heard in the plane.  Nice one.


Not content with that Pete later made his way to the rear of the plane where he inveigled his way into the hearts of the stewardesses by first complaining of a swollen ankle, then feigning a heart attack by going a funny greyish blueish colour.  Once again he was the centre of attention as the call "Is there a Doctor on the plane " went out.  No Doctor, but there was a Vet, way more appropriate in the circumstances!  We told them that the fact he had been drinking solidly for five days and slept about four hours a night might be at the root of his problem, but they took him seriously.  Apparently it is Cellulitise, caused by a severe reaction to an insect bite.  Yeah!!!!  Right!!!!  You will be pleased to know that Pete has recovered, after sobering up and a couple of nights sleep apparently.



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5 STAR HOTEL - FULLY INCLUSIVE - Thursday 8 Sept 12.40 (Luton) - Tuesday 13 Sept 21.50

FLIGHT 350  -  AIRPORT TRANSFER (return) 25
SHARED ROOM - FULLY INCLUSIVE - 67.50per person per day - TOTAL 340

SINGLE ROOM - 92.50 per person per day - TOTAL 460

SHARED ROOMS -  Brian & Steve Bell, - JB & Tony - Phil R & Phil C - Nick &  Al
SINGLE ROOMS - Andy, Peter, Ian, Gary, Hugh, Keith


5 STAR HOTEL - FULLY INCLUSIVE - Saturday 10 Sept 14.20 (Luton) - Tuesday 13 Sept 21.50

FLIGHT 385  -  AIRPORT TRANSFER (return) 25

SHARED ROOM - FULLY INCLUSIVE - 67.50per person per day - TOTAL 200

SINGLE ROOM - 92.50 per person per day - TOTAL 275

SINGLE ROOMS - Len, Chris. Ron