Report on Maltese AGM 2017, St Julians, Malta [Bruce McKay]

Firstly, let me warn you that this report is slightly longer as we were in Malta for a week so I thought we would share the whole week with you…LOL.

So, after the Belgian AGM it was a quick trip home to pick up the wife and 4 days later return to Europe for two weeks visiting Malta and Italy. It was great to have Tanja with me and Malta was first on the agenda and after quite a long flight, first to Frankfurt and then on to Malta we were collected at the airport by our great friend Simon Cusens. Sensing how tired we were, he dropped us at the hotel where we had a short nap and quick shower.

Simon offered to take us out to dinner in the evening, which we naturally agreed to. Needless to say, he took us to a very exclusive restaurant, the Fontanella Tea Garden (don’t let the name fool you) with an absolutely spectacular view of Malta and the ocean, located in Mdina as well as took us for a tour around the city’s inner walls and let me tell you I knew Simon was a historian but listen he really knows his stuff. Thanks for that Simon it was really special.

On Thursday morning, we had an early morning with a great breakfast at the hotel and then we went down to catch the hop on hop off bus tour. It was really a great tour with awesome weather and we then decided to have lunch in a small fishing village called Marsaxlokk. What a beautiful setting with great food and very easy drinking wine. After spending quite some time having lunch we took the bus back to the hotel…quick nap and shower.

Off to registration we went. Drinks on the patio of the Hotel Cavalieri overlooking the ocean and as we enjoyed ourselves, the rest of the delegates slowly started arriving. Here we met up with our good friends Alex and Yvette Abela who would also be hosting us on Sunday and Monday evenings. It was also really great seeing some friends that we had not seen for some time like Randolph and Andreas and catching up with what’s happening in their associations and lives. Dinner was at a restaurant that serves only meat and I mean a lot of meat. For us from South Africa, it was great because of course we enjoy meat. It was a spectacular evening full of friendship and fellowship. I was also lucky enough to meet up with the Chef grilling all the meat and had a brief chat to him about his cooking methods (which were very interesting).

On Friday morning, there was a surprise for us, we were driven by bus to Mdina for a treasure hunt. The Maltese guys had very cleverly planned a treasure hunt in various areas of Mdina, forcing us to get to know the place, which was a great idea and extremely enjoyable. We were broken up into teams, given a map with clues and off we went. In the end and after great fellowship and a few beers it was a tie….and really it was. Friday evening saw us gathering for a fabulous evening at a traditional type restaurant with an outdoor BBQ and swimming pool in the middle of the venue. We travelled there with Alex and Yvette and had an absolutely fabulous evening enjoying the traditional Maltese hospitality.

On Saturday morning, I went to the AGM held at the Cavelieri Hotel and Tania went on the lady’s tour. The meeting was a very interesting one and I am happy to report that the 41 Club in Malta has a very strong bond with RT Malta and they assist each other wherever possible. There is a very clear direction from the new President, Chris. There was a lengthy discussion with regard to the association name and the various points on the questionnaire…responses to be shred at the HYM in Italy. There was a lot of healthy debate which was good and there was a lot of positive outcomes. All members present actively took part in the meeting. When we took a break we also lucky enough to see the start of the annual Rolex Middle Sea Yacht Race from Valetta around Sicily and back from the roof top just outside the conference room…an amazing sight.

After the meeting, we had lunch at the pool and banner exchange, where I also managed to have a chat to Yann, RTI President and there is a positive feeling with regard to 41 Club International and RTI. More info and feedback to be given at the HYM in Italy. Of-course after lunch a few of us styed really late and enjoyed some more fellowship. Well then, it was back to the hotel, a quick shower and of course off to the Hilton Hotel for the gala evening.

Well with the function being held at the Hilton it was quite an elegant affair and the evening was full of great fun and luckily not too many speeches. I must say that I had the honor of inducting 3new members into the Buffalo Club…well I think they enjoyed the experience and it was an educational for all present. The ladies looked beautiful and of course again we all experienced great fellowship and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings. We greeted all those still present at the early hours of the morning and as usual it is always sad to say goodbye but we know that we will be seeing each other soon again.

On Sunday morning, we woke slightly later, then Tanja and I spent the morning with Didier and the Italian Round Table President and a fellow Tabler at Al Capone Bar & Restaurant overlooking the beautiful St Julians Bay, sipping on beer at first and then moving on to wine and lunch. The Italians left and we had a few more drinks, awaiting Alex and Yvette (our hosts, who were celebrating his father’s birthday).

We met up with Alex at about 3pm and he then took us to his beautiful home on the south side of Malta. Well, let me tell you Alex and Yvette know how to host 41’ers…what a great welcome with a drink on their patio overlooking a beautiful garden with again lots of history. That evening saw us visiting a fabulous restaurant that has been in the owners’ family for more than 40 years. They had many Maltese specialty dishes on the menu and they treated us to a meze type meal where we tasted many of these typical dishes and all delicious of course. Being a Chef, I was also lucky enough to have a tour of the kitchen and I kid you not when I say that you could eat off the floor of the kitchen it is so clean and tidy, really a great example.

On Monday morning, very early Didier left, so we greeted him the night before. Alex and Yvette had then arranged a wonderful tour of Valetta for us with non-other than Yvette’s sister. She is a part-time tour guide and again this was an incredible tour. We saw all the main attractions in Valetta with the most knowledgeable tour guide. The city of Valetta is incredible with so much history and so many beautiful restaurants and coffee shops. Yvette met us for lunch and we enjoyed traditional food at a family restaurant and bakery that has been around for many, many years.

After that Yvette took us home to relax and then Alex joined us a bit later. Dinner was a ‘quiet’ night in the home of Alex and Yvette which was in the form of fantastic champagne and a traditional summer type meal in Malta for dinner and of course a few whisky’s late into the night. Tuesday morning saw us greeting our great friends Alex and Yvette and ten off to the airport for a midday flight to Bologna.

A very big thank you to the Maltese Tablers especially John and Andre and all 41 Club members for a great weekend and well organized AGM. Congrats to Michael and his team for a fabulous year and the best of luck to and President Chris with his team for the new year…please contact me or the international board for any assistance…our door is always open.

A very special thanks to Simon Cusens for his great hospitality and looking after us as well as to our fantastic family in Alex and Yvette for looking after us so well and attending to our every need. Your friendship is very special and means a lot to us.

Until Italy my Maltese friends and family…..