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Monday, 24 March 2014

A birthday party at the Union Jack Club in Waterloo

My wife has been rather unwell with “High Anxiety Syndrome” over the last two years. Her birthday is in March and last year she was seventy, and wasn't up for the usual seventy year celebrations, so this year we decided to pretend she was 70 and hold a party of some of our oldest friends at the Union Jack Club.

To ensure my twenty friends lost their “cost” inhibitions, I told them to do their best to get my bill over a thousand pounds. They failed. The restaurant bill came to £551.70 and our bar tab came to £139.70. But they did try, honest! But I'll hasten to add, everything at the club is exceedingly good value for money so I had set them a difficult task.

Pam and I thought we wouldn't want to travel afterwards so booked a room at the club. I took a chance and booked one of their three flats. Three double rooms in all. The first takers were old friends Bill and Jackie Ashby. We were a little worried that the flat (£189) would be rather pokey for three so I didn't push very hard to let the third room.

How wrong we were! The bedrooms were each a good size. Each room had its own sink but there was a bathroom and loo, and also a loo with a sink as well. The kitchen had a cooker, microwave, washing machine and full crockery and kitchen knives in a block. The lounge had a balcony, but 8 floors up, was a little off-putting, so we stayed inside! There was a large TV, three double seater settees, a dining table with six chairs and a writing bureau. The L shape corridor was long enough to work up a sweat jogging up and down for exercise! Three couples, six couples wouldn't have been crowded!

The view, across London from the eight floor was magnificent. I had wished then, that the flats were situated on the 24th (top) floor. The view would have been even greater.

Bill and Jackie called around eleven to picked us up and we got to the club just after midday where we parked in the basement. Our flat wouldn't be ready until 3pm so we left our luggage in the luggage room and retired to the bar for lunch. After an afternoon getting a river bus to North Greenwich and back we returned to the club and took our luggage up to the flat where we were amazed and impressed.

Greeting guests between seven and seven-thirty went well and I left the entrance then for a drink and chat for the next half hour. I had opened a tab in the bar for everyone for pre-dinner drinks and post dinner coffee and liqueurs.

We all had a three course meal, and, I believe only one or two people had an extra cheese course. The simple reason for this is that this is a forces club and the forces are always hungry so the portions were generous. I had every intention to have cheese but couldn't quite make it!

To cut a long story short, everyone came up to us and commented on the food, the amazing wine (South African 'Isonto'), the friendly staff, and the ambience of the club. Jackie, Bill, Pam and I retired to the flat all feeling pleased that the evening went off so well.

The next morning we went down to breakfast which was, I believe, £8.50 a head. I'll let you decide whether this was value for money or not. It was buffet style, I went up and had a plate of assorted fruit salad. After that I had several meats and cheese. Then I had a cooked breakfast of black pudding, bacon, sausage, egg, mushrooms, beans and one or two other items but my memory fails me at present! Finally I had coffee and a croissant to finish it off. Fortunately for the club, the others ate less. That, I thought, made up for not having the cheese course the night before.

To join the Union Jack Club, you need to be serving or ex army, navy or air force. Serving members have a free membership (the cost for ex members is £17 p.a.) Wives and grown up children (over 18) can join in their own right for £5 each if they wish to. The club is near Waterloo Station in Sandell Street. Web address is http://www.ujclub.co.uk/.

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