Softel Christmas Party 2003

| Maison de Stuff | John's Page | John's Pictures |

Saturday 13th - Sunday 14th December 2003. This year the annual company jaunt was held in the rather splendid Danesfield House Hotel, by the river Thames near Marlow.

19:30:15 The table I sat on for dinner. From left to right, Keith, Janet, our waiter, me and Chie. The waiter told us it was his first night on the job. He was very good nonetheless, bless him.

19:30:59 Here's Greg and Lisa, who were also on our table.

19:31:46 The rest our our table - Mr and Mrs Tanswell, plus Simon and Vanessa. The Tanswells already looking a bit lairy here!

19:35:25 I found the whole balloon thing a bit embarassing personally, but everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves. Naturally, the "You're not my father. I'll never rule the universe with you." bit ensued.

19:35:44 Probably just after the launch, this now seems like a picture of not very much at all.

19:40:40 A nice picture taking in the rest of the dining room. Surprsingly good lighting. Very nice decor, but clearly there'd been some confusion between feet and metres when specifying the size of the windows.

19:40:52 A balloon mid-flight.... or perhaps someone is just holding it out of shot.

19:42:08 Barry just about to launch another balloon. I couldn't help but think the hotel staff must have been overwhelmed by our sophisticated nature.

20:31:58 This was Kundan's tie, with some Japanese characters on. We asked Chie what it meant, but it didn't make much sense - the first and last are phonetic, and the middle two are ideographic. So it comes out something like ku-tree-sentence-mmmmmm. Or at least that's what she told us.

20:51:34 Chie seemingly enjoying her Turkey, with Richie Tanswell looking a bit like he's about to throw up in the background. Rich T really came up trumps for great facial expressions during the course of the evening.

20:57:20 Simon, with a fair number of those party blower things in his mouth. If anyone knows what they're actually called, then please send answers on a postcard to...

20:57:33 Vanessa is clearly very impressed. I'm sure there was a smutty double entendre issued at this point, but I can't now remember what it was.

20:57:40 Simon seems very pleased with himself.

21:06:03 Here's other Richard. He seems to have the air of some kind of inspector about him, perhaps issuing Simon with a warning that his blower-thing activity was not in keeping with regulations, or something.

21:06:19 A very close-up picture of me. Not sure why it was warranted. Still, if nothing else it gives you a chance to appreciate the colour of the wall.

21:09:00 An interesting assortment of facial expressions. I seem to have opted for a bog-standard cartoon style grimace, whereas Simon has plumped for the kind of manical laughter usually reserved for criminal masterminds, shortly after presenting their evil plan for world domination. Barry and Richard however, are more in the territory of those who have been instructed to smile or be shot. There's fear in those eyes. Oh yes.

21:15:44 A sneaky picture of Barry and Monica, both of whome seem to blend in very nicely with the christmas tree.

21:32:29 Chie, with our waiter, who was a bit confused as to why we'd want a picture with him in.

21:32:59 Me and Chie, taken by our waiter. Unfortunately, I seem to be pulling a daft face, which wasn't actually intentional in this particular instance. It's the sort of face usually found in black and white slapstick films, where zany person one is attempting to remove a tooth from zany person two, by tying a bit of string to it, and then slamming a door. Or something like that.

22:21:52 A very interesting and dynamic picture - Mike pulls on Russ's braces, causing Russ, and also surprisingly Rich T, to put on rather spectacular facial expression. Yep, we were really getting our money's worth from Rich T this evening.

22:22:50 A very civilised picture of a number of people sitting on what appeared to be a great big pouf. As you can imagine, by the end of the evening this pun was as worn out as the item of furniture itself.

22:25:45 Chie and Kevin looking very Japanese by the big old fireplace.

22:37:57 An assortment of unruly looking fellows, all very jovial, apart from me. I didn't seem to be able to escape the cartoon grimaces this evening.

22:38:58 I think Chie must have taken this whilst I was engaged in some highly intelligent conversation with fellow intellectuals. OK, realistically, we were probably discussing unusual farting noises, but still, I like to keep up the illusion that our exchanges are somewhat more highbrow.

22:43:52 Gordon, up on the balcony. The way he's wringing his hands here makes me almost convinced he's plotting the downfall of all those he's surveying.

22:44:50 Kevin, looking very cheeky, also up on the balcony. Kevin here is in fact basking in the warm comforting glow of his sniper fantasy.

22:48:37 Intrigued, I had to go up and stand on the balcony, so naturally here follows some pictures on the balcony looking down.

22:49:29 Yes, me looking down from the balcony again. I'm beginning to think that the narrative for the evening's pictures is turning out somewhat less than scintillating.

23:15:07 Myself, Kevin and Chie decided to go for a wander to find some more alcohol. Here we are in mine and Chie's room. Note how lady-like Chie's posture is here. Interestingly, this picture seems to suggest the wine glass we found in the room the next morning was Kevin's, rather than Barry's.

23:22:15 Taken from the window of Kevin's room, these are the rather pleasing crenellations running along the roof of the hotel. To be honest, I didn't know what crenellations were when Kevin first mentioned them, so I'd pictured some kind of fungal growth.

23:25:17 Near Kevin's room, there were some bizarrely placed seats, just on a landing. I wasn't quite sure why anyone would ever want to sit on them, which was obviously therefore justification enough to get a picture of us making use of them.

23:25:28 No real point in this.

23:25:41 Me and Kevin in the fun chairs. I'm oddly pleased by how much I look like an old man in this picture, in terms of posture at least. Maybe that's automatic given old fashioned chairs and a glass of whisky.

23:25:50 Chie, a self portrait.

23:26:17 One of my personal favourite pictures of the evening, Chie in a cupboard, on the same fun packed landing that contained the pointless chairs.

23:27:47 Just a few steps down from the previously featured landing was this mirror, where Chie wanted to get a picture of all three of us. Unfortunately, although this is probably the sharpest of all the attempts, Chie's face is mostly obscured by the camera.

23:28:15 I had a go myself. The composition was OK, but I bizarrely had really unsteady hands. Could the whisky have possible been a factor? Surely not.

23:30:07 Chie's second attempt, a tiny bit blurred, and me and Kevin are looking untidily lethargic.

23:30:29 Chie's third and final attempt, after which we decided we'd squeezed just about as much fun out of this bit of the hotel as was humanly possible.

23:33:14 I assume we're back downstairs again now. Here follows a selection of "arty" pictures, possibly because we couldn't find any actual real people to take pictures of.

23:33:35 A nice moody picture of me.

23:34:09 A similar moody picture of Chie, although it seems to be on a bit of a slant. Again, could the whisky possibly have contributed here...?

00:00:58 Ah, it seems we have real people to take pictures of again... Although I seem to have forgotten to turn the flash back on.

00:01:15 Right, back into proper people pictures now then. The abundance of hands covering mouths in this picture mean there is almost certainly a degree of downright sinful gossip being discussed.

00:14:32 Out by reception, a jolly nice picture of Chie and Barry, who was looking very dapper indeed.

00:17:40 I was commissioned by Barry to take a nice picture of him and Monica. This is the first of a number of attempts, as Barry was never quite happy, although I think the pair of them look great in all of them.

00:18:01 here they are again...

00:18:30 ...Ok admittedly cigar smoke was a bit of an adverse factor in this attempt.

00:18:43 The last picture of the pair of them. Either Barry was pleased with this one, or they just ran out of patience!

00:20:33 I'm very pleased with this picture, it's the most like an eastend gangster I looked all evening.

02:02:57 Given the large gap in time between this picture and the last, I assume the party had pretty much wound down, and we'd gone through the bit where just a few people are sitting around talking... Which is typically not so condusive to taking pictures. I think this is me displaying my disappointment that almost everyone had gone to bed already.

02:03:43 After going back to our room to help Chie open the door, I returned to the lounge to see if there were any party goers still around. During this time, Chie took it upon herself to take a number of "arty" pictures...

02:04:29 Chie taken through the mirror in our room. Note the whisky bottles.

02:04:59 I think she was trying to get the camera out of shot here.

02:05:39 Very sharp this one, considering the flash was off.

02:06:07 I'm quite fond of the composition here.

02:07:27 She seemed to be trying to get a picture of the top of the frame here.

02:23:36 Eventually, I caved in and decided to come back to our room to get some sleep. For some reason it had been decided I didn't qualify for the five year award I thought I was going to get this year. Thankfully, Mark from Aston compensated for this by awarding me this paper doily which had previously had mince pies on it. I think I'm going to get it framed.

09:21:56 The next morning. The view from the window of our room.

10:46:00 After checking out, we thought we'd got for a quick wander around the grounds and take some pictures.

10:48:06 Chie, somewhat dwarfed by this ornately carved tree.

10:48:36 Me, with the maze-like hedges behind, and beyond that the river Thames.

10:49:32 The hotel, lovely grand looking building. Barry is actually standing at one of the windows (more like a patio door really) here, but you can't quite make him out in the photograph. For those really bored, you ought to be able to work out which window/door it is by comparing it with the next picture, and finding the one which has closed.

10:49:52 ...and again with Chie in.

10:50:37 The river Thames.

10:52:37 The hotel from a different angle.

10:54:48 Chie in the little turret that we could see from our bedroom. It may have been from here that Cheryl was apparently spying on us the previous evening.