Report and comment by Rod Hart, photos courtesy of Rod Hart,Charlie Guiot, & Keith Ashton

Our MHC 2013 XMAS PARTY had been scheduled to be held at the Hilton Conservancy Lapa, however due to heavy rainfall during the preceding week we were advised that getting to the venue may pose a problem. Annie and Carolee rose to the occasion and instead of cancelling, rescheduled to the EAGLE RIDGE ESTATE Clubhouse in Howick, Peter ensured that members were notified of the change, and the party and pre-party hike, led by Carolee and her labrador Sundae, was well attended and enjoyed by all. Well done on a GREAT JOB Annie and Carolee and others who pitched in to support at the last moment, and I am guessing our appreciation to the Clubhouse manager for allowing us to host the party at Eagle Ridge.

Pic 1 & 2: Carolee greets the guests, and invites all to mince pies prior to the hike

Brigitta as Conductor of the Polar Express conducted the members in the singing of "Jingle Bells" with songsheets passed out by the Fairy/Angel Carolee. This was followed by a rather unruly (true to tradition) question and answer session with 23 questions and only eight awards... One section of the crowd was particularly rowdy...

Pic 3: The 'Conductor' conducts the proceedings...
Pic 4: The 'Conductor' & the 'Angel/fairy'
Pic 5: another little angel in the background
Pic 6: an assortment of characters
Pic 7: Song sheets being handed out (for Jingle Bells)
Pic KA1: Joy to the world - three happy ladies
Pic 8: Prizes for the answering some easy/some difficult questions
Pic 9: the 'rowdy' corner...
Pic 10: the 'quiet' well behaved corner

Following the questions the braai's were declared ready and for the next 30 minutes smoke hung over the braai area. Bring and share salads and puddings proved yet again that MHC members have good food tastes.

Pic 11-13: Braai'ing
Pic 14: Socialising

After lunch was the judging of the "Best costume" with 'Angel', 'Chef', 'Conductor', 'The Shepherd', 'Jack Frost', & 'Needy' showing off to the appreciative crowd. As far as we can recall the Shepherd won by popular vote - not sure who it was, their disguise was too good.

Pic 15: The 'Angel' and the "Chef'
Pic 16: 'Angel', 'Chef', 'Conductor', 'Abednego', & 'Jack Frost'
Pic 17: The 'Conductor' shows off
Pic KA2: Brigitta doing her hippy hippy shake
Pic 18: 'Abednego' does some shepherding
Pic 19: 'Jack Frost' tries to warm up to the crowd
Pic 20: "Give to the Needy"- here is 'Needy' looking for donations

Then came the much anticipated awards for "Photo of the Year" and "Report of the Year" for photographs and reports that had been published, by members, on either the Website or in the Newsletter.

Rod presented the "Photo of the Year" awards, saying that the selection had been done by independant local photographer Leon Heyes who had selected from the 1345 photos that had been published on the website during the year.

Winner of the Cape Union Mart gift voucher was Charlie Guiot for his photo taken on the Cyprus Cave hike in February. Here Leon commented: "There is something magical about my choice for FIRST place. It is very ordinary subject matter but the lighting is beautiful.The size of the people in the landscape is just right - not too over powering - and the whole image is very easy on the eye with soft elements which invoke a feeling of peace."

The winning photo is part of a SimpleViewer photo set, which will open on clicking on the photo below.

Second prize of a bottle of wine went to Dave Sclanders for his Berg pic taken on an MHC exploratory hike to find a "lost cave". Here Leon commented: "SECOND is just a beautiful landscape with stunning colours"

Third prize for the runner up of a bottle of wine went to Brian Henderson for his photo taken on the Rocky Bay weekend. The judge's comment was: "THIRD place is just a beautiful relaxing scene and also a bit unusual from all the mountain pics". Clicking on the photos below will link you to the full reports.

Brigitta awarded the "Report of the Year" to Mary Clover, in her absence, for her report on the MHC weekend to the Spinney during February. Mary's report had been judged best on many facets by the Writers Guild. Well done Mary! Mary's winning report can be viewed at the link: THE SPINNEY
or in the Newsletter: MARCH 2013 NEWSLETTER

From here the festivities moved indoors to await the arrival of "Father Xmas" and his/her attendant "Fairy" for the handing out of the Secret Santa's gifts. For those who don't know the process, following years of Xmas tradition at MHC, once you have received your gift you may exchange it immediately for any other gift that has so far been handed out, of course if the gift is something really desirable (like a bottle of Red Lable Whiskey)it may get passed around frequently! Of course the "sting in the tail" is that the first recipient, not having had any other gifts to exchange with, is permitted to exchange from all the gifts at the end of the process. This year there turned out to be a "counter sting" and the Whiskey turned out not to be such a good bet - but I'm not saying nothing. Great fun indeed!

Pic 21: Father Xmas and the Real Xmas Fairy arrive
Pic 22: The Xmas Fairy & Father Xmas working out the number system
Pic 23: Sarah receives her gift from the Fairy
Pic 24: Brian receives his gift
Pic 25: A bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Lable Whiskey is pulled out of the Xmas bag...
Pic 26: Katy goes and trades for the bottle of whiskey
Pic 27: Katy with her prize (soon to be claimed by someone else...)
Pic 28: Michaela tries to remember who has the nougat or chocolates
Pic KA3: Here's one of our brilliant web master - feeling a bit of a mug (the present)
Pic 29: the rowdy side of the room
Pic KA4: Chris smiling with glee before he discovered he'd be drinking some tea
Pic 30: The Xmas fairy taking a well deserved rest
Pic 31: On behalf of the members Sven thanks Carolee and Annie & others who had worked hard to put the party together and make it such a success

Pic 32: What Katy fought for, and proudly ended up with - a set of san-type fridge magnets (manufactured by one of our members)
Pic 33: My 'Merry Christmas' mug, which is being put to good use already