Oakley Court Hotel, Sunday 26th August, 2018
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"From what had gone before this was certain to be..........A Picnic." or should that be "You're Wet!"
Tuesday, February 26th, 2019
2018 was always going to be a special year for us and the picnic. TimeWarp was celebrating it's 30th anniversary, the stage show was 45 years old and the picnic itself had reached it's 13th year in a row.
This year's event seemed to sneak up on us a little, I think because we were very busy in the week before sorting out deliveries, film crews, the next year's booking changes and even a cake.
Arriving at Oakley Court is always something special. As we drove through the gates and along the drive to the house, spotting the Transylvanian flag flying in the breeze, the smiles appeared and we felt the pull of our spiritual home once again.
We also managed to get ourselves 'screen-accurate' weather for the 2018 event, or as most people call it 'rain'. After one of the hottest August's on record, the day of the picnic started with a shower which carried on through the meal itself and stopped just in time for some photos in the early evening. Most people didn't mind, as after all, it is Rocky and there is more than a little rain in the movie.
Luckily we'd managed to get ourselves into our room a little early and it made a nice change to have time to chat to friends old and new before the picnic itself. 2018 had sold out a few days after it went on sale after the 2017 event and even after a few cancellations the waiting list made sure we had our maximum allowed for the event. Because of our wet weather option and screening the picnic was limited to 148 people.
With most of us indoors the hallway and adjoining rooms were getting packed. It was an amazing site to see so many fans in costume, back at the original filming location for The Rocky Horror Picture Show and it was hard to find a room without one of us in.
As I said, we have a wet weather option for the picnic, although this was only the third time in the history of the event we had needed to use it. Everyone set off for the usual place, only to be told that in fact we were all in the dining area this year. This did help the film crew that we had with us, as they were able to get a shot of all of us 'arriving' at the front door of the hotel as we walked back from the conference room.
So another indoor picnic took place with plenty of food for all. Oakley even went out of their way to help one or two people with an off-menu order to make sure everyone was happy. It's always nice to get feedback from the attendees that we can pass onto the hotel after the event to help with the next year's planning.
By the time everyone had eaten, the weather had finally broken and the rain stopped, so we all headed outside for the traditional group photos and lot's of chats on the lawns with the chance to admire this wonderful building.
The rest of the early evening allowed people the chance to explore, relax, chat or whatever else they wanted to do. We have always set the picnic up to be as informal as possible. It's not a convention and never will be.
We opened up our screening area at around 8.30pm, with our own bar opening half an hour earlier. The room was packed and Stephanie needed the help of the reps along with other fans to get through the queue for fan club/picnic merchandise.
We also had a little surprise for everyone in the shape of a TimeWarp 30th Anniversary Birthday Cake that Stephanie had made for the evening. The cake was displayed for people to take photos of before the movie and was then cut up for everyone to have a slice (or three, yummy) after the movie. We had some left at the end and made sure the staff had that as a small thank you for all their kind help.
Before the movie itself we did our traditional raffle, this year with a prize for every year of the fan club, thirty in all. A few people who had more than one win insisted that there was a redraw which gained them all a round of applause from the rest of the picnickers, that was a very thoughtful thing for them to do. We also had one more bonus prize added at the end of a pair of tickets to Richard's concert in October. The first two winners passed the tickets on as they had already booked, but the ultimate winner of the prize was shall we say more than a little happy.
Stephanie also had created a little gift for each of the fan club reps as a thank you and they reciprocated with a beautiful hand drawn card to celebrate the fan club's birthday. Steph is going to use it as a newsletter cover soon.
And then on with the movie. I've been chatting to Oakley Court for years about the screenings and they promised an upgrade to the room this year. They didn't disappoint with a brand new projector, screen, sound system and relay screens for those a little further back in the room. Excellent!
After the film, everyone had a chance to eat the cake and Steph made one or two announcements of forthcoming events. We then showed a little twenty minute video before calling it a night in the screening room at around midnight. Those who wanted went back to the main building for another drink or three, Stephanie and I gave up at around 1.30am and headed off to bed leaving others still in the bar.
Monday morning, after the usual glorious Oakley Court breakfast, we all met up on the lawns for a final chat, group photo or three, and to say our goodbye's to everyone who had joined us for the picnic. Well I say everyone, a few that didn't leave the bar until the early hours missed out on that bit.
A huge thank you to everyone that came to this year's picnic. We hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did and here is to 2019!
If you would like to send us your own review/comments/photos please use the email address shown below.
Images from the 2018 picnic
For more information about the event, see our main Rocky Horror Picnic Show page.
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