Annual Meeting 2022 – BARCELONA and Roses (Rosas)
Record (or log) of the weekend of the C S Forester Society 2022 AGM.
(Held in Barcelona and Roses (Rosas) between 16th to 19th September)
1 – On Friday afternoon, most members met in Barcelona’s Placa Reial and enjoyed a reunion and the meeting of new friends. After refreshment, the group took a short walk to the Museu Maritim de Barcelona where the Head of the Collections Department, Dr Pere Izquierdo, guided us around the various exhibits. They included a full-size replica of the type of large galley that Hornblower pursued and later boarded, as related in Mr Midshipman Hornblower – The Spanish Galleys.
First Re-enactment: the boarding of the galley in the straits of Gibraltar and the subsequent fighting.
2- The group then walked to the Reial Club Maritim on the waterfront for dinner. Here members accidently re-enacted Hornblower’s experience at the reception in St Petersburg when he was unaware that the first dish presented was only a starter. We had the same experience when dish after dish began to be served together with much wine and beer.
3- On Saturday morning, the group travelled by train, car or minibus up the coast to Roses where most people checked into the superb Hotel Terraza. After lunch, we assembled in the hotel’s conference room where Ludwig chaired the AGM. This was followed by two presentations: John Maunder spoke on “Horatio Hornblower’s Dangerous and Violent Career” and Ron Meister spoke about “When Hornblower Broke the Rules”.
4- At the end of the meeting, we crossed the road outside the hotel and entered the extensive Roses fort.
Second re-enactment: from Flying Colours, this was the departure of Hornblower, Bush and Brown from the fort to travel under guard to Paris with their captor, Colonel Caillard.
5- At another superb dinner, the traditional “castle pie” was served much to the amusement and interest of groups of other diners in the restaurant. The evening continued with a quiz with questions set and asked by John Maunder about CSF’s other works with fifteen “Hornblower–free” questions.
6- On Sunday morning, we travelled by bus over the hills from Roses to Port de la Selva. On the orders of Admiral Leighton, Hornblower had had to lead his men and their heavy 24 pounders and ammunition together with a half-hearted collection of Spanish allies from that beach over a mountainous path to begin the siege of the Roses fort. Ludwig led the group to the brow of a hill where there was a clear view of the fort and the countryside between us.
Third re-enactment: from Ship of the Line, this was the scene where Hornblower settled a stand-off between a Spanish army offer and a Royal Navy seaman about smoking near a damaged keg of gunpowder. Also included was the realisation that a retreat was necessary because of the non-appearance of a superior force of Spanish irregulars.
7- Another good lunch was taken at a restaurant “under the pine trees” near Port de la Selva. After a brief visit to this town, we moved on to the nearby town of Llanca with its fort that had been stormed and destroyed by Bush. The group was continuing to experience and enjoy an almost real and remarkable close identification of the locations visited with the events and places portrayed in the two Hornblower books of A Ship of the Line and Flying Colours.
8- On Monday morning, another bus trip took us along the Cap Creus peninsula as far as Punta Falconera with its beautiful coastal views. At this spot, Ken Napier and John Roberts each gave a presentation with reference to A Ship of the Line. Ken’s presentation, “in full view of the original theatre” was entitled: “The seamanship and decisions taken when HMS Sutherland rescued the dismasted HMS Pluto” while John’s was “Outline of the strategic situation facing the squadron of Admiral Leighton in sight of four enemy battle ships plus ensuing battle leading to the destruction of HMS Sutherland”. Both talks vividly provided a better understanding of what CSF had written and what it was like to be aboard the Sutherland at the time.
9- Back at the hotel and over yet another excellent meal, Ludwig bade farewell to the gathering and expressed a hope for all to meet again in a year. Members thanked him enthusiastically for his superlative organisation of the whole weekend. The event closed and members dispersed on their various ways home.
John Maunder, September 2022.