Arena Travel Blog

  • Bridge in Menorca Newsletter

    Bridge In Menorca  Newsletter S’Algar - from Martin & Judy Yet another very successful Autumn Menorcan bridge holiday. To celebrate our 42nd anniversary at S’Algar and the 6th October break at La Quinta the sun shone for 27 out of the 28 days. The phraseology goes something along the line of “always on the righteous” which must prove that Arena have really got it right as it’s something that Judy and I never managed to achieve. Seriously though the sun always makes such a difference – combined with the welcoming atmosphere that we always receive from both hotels made both holidays wonderful. S’Algar Hotels recognised that Ann & Nobby Clark were celebrating their 25th visit to the S’Algar hotel and presented them with a gift. It really is a testament to the quality of what’s on offer that so many return on numerous occasions. For the first time we under estimated the number of hand records that would be needed, we have in the past printed just over half of the group number and inevitably had to throw numerous copies away; for both breaks this time we had to print more which speaks volumes regarding the use of the duplimate. Other than the EBU of course we still are the only company that offers this facility abroad. Our thanks to Bob and Jacky Baker who were with us at S’Algar and to June and Derek Taplin who came to La Quinta for their help and expertise, to the management and staff at both hotels and most importantly to those of you who attended for making it such an enjoyable experience for us and your fellow guests. Director’s Report for S’Algar 2013 by Bob Baker There were a number of very distributional hands in the main events in S’Algar, and this led to some interesting bidding problems. Here is one from the Championship Pairs final: East ♠ 4 AKQ105 K ♣ 976432 West ♠ AJ2 J4 AQ3 ♣ AKJ105 At Love All, North passed as dealer, and East’s first decision is his choice of opening bid. All the players sitting East settled for 1, treating the hand as a 5-5 shape because of the discrepancy in the strength of the two long suits. West obviously has enough to make a jump shift response, forcing to game, but there is no need to do so, and a response of 3♣ simply uses up bidding space. In fact, after West makes a simple change of suit response of 2♣ the bidding is much easier. East should realise that his hand has become enormously strong, with a known ten-card fit (at least) in clubs and a five loser hand, and this should encourage him to take control of the bidding. If East bids an immediate 4NT as Roman Key Card Blackwood then he will get the reply that tells him partner holds either one or four Key Cards; he cannot be sure which it is, though, and thereafter the bidding may get a little murky. Better, if the pair plays Splinter bids, is for East to rebid 3♠. Since 2♠ (a reverse) would be game-forcing after a two-over-one response, the jump should be taken as a Splinter Bid, showing excellent club support and a shortage (singleton or void) in spades. West, of course, has a very strong hand, and should be encouraged by East’s rebid. If he now bids 4, a control bid showing slam interest (since it commits the pair to game at least) then East can sensibly use 4NT. As he has shown his interest in bigger and better things, West’s reply (showing one or four Key Cards) now clearly shows four, and East can bid a grand slam confidently. At Duplicate Pairs, East may even try 7NT - if West has four Key cards then East can count twelve top tricks (one spade, three hearts, two diamonds and six clubs). A thirteenth will appear if West has ♠K, J, Q or if the heart suit comes in (three low hearts in the West hand makes this a good bet). Of course, here there are fifteen top tricks available - but even if EW stop in 7♣ they would have shared a top. Points to remember: 1. If you don’t think that a hand with 6-5 shape is worth a (strong) reverse sequence, then it may be best to treat it as a 5-5 shape, especially if the five-card suit is strong and the six-card suit weak 2.  Just because you have 16+ points, you do not have to jump the bidding in response to partner’s opening bid. A simple change of suit is forcing, and often you will be well placed to know how to proceed once partner has rebid 3.  Splinter Bids are quite common after an opening bid of one of a major, but they can be used in other sequences. In principle, whenever a bid of a suit would be forcing, a jump in that suit can be used as a Splinter Bid 4.  Sometimes it is better to use control bids (aka cue-bids) before using Blackwood - the two often work well together 5.  Roman Key Card Blackwood (or the slightly less effective Key Card Blackwood) can locate the king of the trump suit and helps on this sort of hand 6.  Any Grand Slam will score most of the points in a Duplicate Pairs session (here, 7♣ would tie for a top). However, when you can count twelve certain tricks and there are many chances for a thirteenth, as here, you may want to “go for broke”. If it comes off you have a story for the bar afterwards, and if everything goes wrong you have a real hard luck tale to tell (and bridge players are invariably sympathetic people) La Quinta by June Booty I was asked to go and direct as part of the team running two weeks’ Bridge holiday in the La Quinta hotel in Menorca and as this was my first time working for First for Bridge (now Arena Travel) in my directing capacity I was both excited and nervous. For the first week we had 11 tables and everyone got on very well. The atmosphere was amazing, with everyone very upbeat and jolly, and the wonderful weather that we had certainly added to our enjoyment. On the second week quite a few of our guests departed but no-one new arrived and we were worried the dynamics of the group would change for the worse. However, our fears were unfounded as the smaller group led to everyone getting to know one another very well and some firm friendships being formed. We had played table tennis a couple of times on the first week but, realising how popular this was, we played every day during the second week and a lot of hidden talent was discovered, although one or two enthusiastic players did have a tousle with the surrounding hedge! One evening eight players from a local Bridge club joined us for a duplicate session and together with the four members of the organising team we boosted our numbers to seven tables. Everyone enjoyed this evening immensely and the language barrier did not cause any problems, in fact it seemed to add to the fun. For most of the week all four of our organising team joined in to make an extra table, sometimes playing with one another and sometimes playing with the guests, and this too added an extra interesting dimension. On the directing front, I was not called too much – I’m not sure if it was because hardly anyone made any mistakes (hard to believe) or because they were all too scared of me! However, at the beginning of the holiday I offered a prize to the first person who called me for something that I had never seen before. I have been directing for over forty years, much of that time working for the EBU at national competitions and thought it unlikely that anything I had not seen before would come up. How wrong can one be? After only a day or two it happened, and then the very next day someone else did exactly the same thing! When the bidding ended South was declarer and West was due to lead. Unfortunately, East led by mistake and placed his card, a heart, face up (if it had been face down then there would have been no problem). This mistake occurs very frequently at every Bridge club, but before anyone had time to draw attention to the irregularity West led a spade, having not seen that partner had already led, also face up! Now I was called. First I ascertained that East’s card was definitely played before West’s. Now I told declarer he had five options and must not confer with his partner when choosing one. In summary they are 1) he can accept the lead and be dummy, 2) he can accept the lead and be declarer, 3) he can reject the lead and insist that West leads a heart in which case East can put his heart back in his hand, 4) he can reject the lead and prohibit West from leading a heart in which case East can put his heart back in his hand or 5) he can reject the lead and allow West to play anything he wants but East must leave his heart on the table and play it at his first legal opportunity, be that following suit, leading or discarding. Of course, South cannot confer with his partner when making the decision. This is all very wordy but straightforward but East’s exposed card added to the problem. If South chose options 1), 2) or 3) then East’s spade would become a major penalty card and would itself be subject to 3), 4) and 5) above. If South chose 4) or 5) then East would have to lead his exposed heart as his card would have to be played at its first legal opportunity, namely trick one. Phew, who’d be a director! I am also a Bridge teacher and I was commissioned to do four seminars during the fortnight. One I did on Game Tries and one on Splinter bids, with the other two based mainly on the hands from the nights before. The hands had all been randomly dealt by the computer and Games Tries were a rare bird, hardly to be spotted at all. Splinters, on the other hand seemed to be popping up all over the place and people were eagerly chatting about ones they had managed to bid! All in all a super fortnight. I think the guests are all looking forward to returning – I certainly am.        
  • Priscilla Presley meets European Elvis Representatives

    Priscilla Presley held a private meeting with Elvis representatives from Europe to discuss EPE's plans for the future and to thank them for their work in promoting Elvis.


    The meeting was also attended by Elvis and Priscilla's close friend Jerry Schilling and was organised by Dennis Jale onboard the 2013 TCB Cruise. England was represented by editor Julie Yeardye (far left).  Julie is also one of our Elvis experts and will be joining fans on our 2014 trip to Bad Nauheim, where Elvis met Priscilla in 1959, while stationed in Germany with the US Army. Elvis Festival Bad Nauheim >>
  • Elvis in Germany Feature

    We found this great feature on Elvis's time in Germany, with some really stunning photos. Elvis in Germany feature >> Most of the locations mentioned here are included on our Elvis in Germany holiday next August, where you will not only see these great Elvis sights, but you can also enjoy the European Elvis Festival, which takes please in Bad Nauheim next year. View holiday >> We are staying at the Dolce Hotel, which is within walking distance of many of the places mentioned in this article, such as Elvis's home at 14 Goesthestrasse, which you will recognise from all those fan photos and the Hotel Grunewald, which is right next to our hotel.
  • 80th Birthday Tour to Memphis

    80th Birthday Tour to Memphis With Las Vegas optional extension January 2015 It’s the Big One. Join fans from all over the world to celebrate The King’s 80th birthday. We’ll be staying in Memphis and then in Tupelo, so we won’t miss any of the birthday events. This is one birthday not to miss! More details to be announced soon. Prices yet to be confirmed but you can contact us and register free now! Email us >>
  • Queen Fan Club 28th Annual Convention

    Great Yarmouth 2013 Once again hordes of QUEEN fans travelled from all over the world to attend the Fan Clubs Convention, held at Vauxhall Holiday Park in Great Yarmouth between 19th – 22nd April 2013. The whole weekend was bathed in glorious sunshine. These gatherings have become a highlight of the fans calendar and the reason why is plain to see to everyone who attended the event. There is quite no weekend like it! The major entertainment was held in the Regency Room and Waynes World – Karaoke Session kicked off proceedings with WAYNE PLANT. Then the weekend compere NICK DADD read out the usual announcements and introduced JACKY SMITH for the ‘Official Welcome’. A compilation video was shown detailing the events which were going to be held which ended with a message from Freddie! Then a special video message from BRIAN MAY was shown and KERRY ELLIS also appeared on the screen with him. Thank you so much Brian for taking time out to film the message, it was appreciated very very much by everyone in the room! Jacky then had a surprise when fans started moving onto the dance floor and FLASH MOB gave a performance of dance. Amusing. All arranged over the internet! Thanks Wayne. The first disco was then held, the  A-Z  FANS CHOICE DISCO. Songs were collated by fans sending in a list of their favourite songs. There were some surprising titles and we heard songs at the disco we haven’t played before. Then a 3½ hour video disco followed and the dance floor was packed all night long. There were 3 evening DISCOS held, one each night. Saturday night we had our very own DJ when CHRIS IBBS took to the turntables and played requests. Many think this was the best disco at the convention – ever! High praise indeed. Sunday disco could have gone on all night long as the dance floor was packed the entire evening. One of the Convention highlights is the Conga Train. Fans have their own ‘Miracle Express’ as they dance to Breakthru. The atmosphere definitely goes up a notch when this takes place! During the days there are quizzes and this year we had 2 ALPHABET GAMES – one QUEEN song titles and the other SOLO titles. Tougher than you think when you only have 5 seconds to pick a letter and then give a song title and not repeat any that’s been said! Lots of fun at these! MASTERMIND was a close call this year and not one pass! Winner DAVID TAYLOR was overjoyed! We also had a TEAM 4 CHALLENGE QUIZ to test your general knowledge! Three excellent interviews were held over the weekend, presided by our regular interviewer JIM JENKINS. First guest was TV & Radio Star RHYS THOMAS who gave what was an entertaining interview which the crowd lapped up. He brought along some videos to show. An alternative The Invisible Man video was shown which everybody loved! He also showed a new video for a remixed Freddie track. Love Kills went down a storm! The crowd showed their appreciation with a loud applause! DOUG PUDDIFOOT took us back to Smile days and the beginning of QUEEN. He explained how the cover concept for QUEENS debut album came about and showed how certain effects were achieved. He brought along an old camera and explained how the photos were taken on the back of the album. Fascinating. A returning guest who is made extremely welcome each year is PETER FREESTONE. This year he brought along some photos taken in New York and a couple included Freddie in them. We also showed him some photos fans had sent in and he explained who was in each photo and stories relating to them. UNURMA JANCHIVtalked about the exhibition of Queen Art by Batbileg Darjaa. QUEEN’S very own archivist GREG BROOKS brought along some unseen live concert footage (compiled with thanks by Gary Taylor) which was a treat. Greg also gave a talk on current happenings and told some exclusive information. All the guests took questions from the floor. JAMIE MOSES gave a Masterclass which had to be seen! Thank you to all our guests for coming along. This is the place to be to meet these wonderful people. We had our usual MARKET PLACE where there were some bargains to be had. Whilst this was on we had BRETT LINFORTH present a live radio feed for Switchradio. Brett also organised fund raising activities for the QUEEN Fan Club. He presented over £700 to Jacky on the stage, with more to follow. There was a CAKE STALL selling delicious cakes for Mercury Phoenix Trust by AMEY TUNNEY. Attending her first convention was fund raiser BEC SHARPEwho kindly dressed up as Freddie as she does for the ‘Freddie For A Day’ and collected monies for MPT. Thanks to the fund raisers, you did a grand job. There were a number of live concerts shown over the four day event which included QUEEN Live At The Rainbow 74, Hyde Park 76, Earls Court 77, Houston 77, Argentina 81 and many more bringing it right up to date with the Ukraine 2012 concert where QUEEN were fronted by ADAM LAMBERT! Brian May and The Cross live concerts were on offer in the V Lounge  and a lot more! We showed the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert on its 21st Anniversary. PETER FREESTONE gave an AIDS Presentation to remind us that this deadly disease is still with us. Our very own QTV streamed a selection of live concerts, documentaries and loads of videos from each morning to the early hours. We had a couple of sporting events too, Pool, Darts, Snooker and Golf. All the prize winners for all the events received their medals and prizes in front of a cheering crowd! We also had musical guests entertain us and this year THE BOHEMIANS, one of the UK’s top tribute bands rock n rolled Saturday night. Sunday afternoon the Convention had a taste of culture. PETER FREESTONE introduced the Russian virtuoso pianist  NATALIA POSNOVA. She gave a remarkable performance by any standards. We now know why Brian May is enthralled by her. Natalia performed Who Wants To Live Forever, gave us the world premiere of Don’t Try So Hard and encored with her own rendition of Flash. It was a remarkable performance which brought the crowd to its feet and giving such loud cheers of “Bravo”. Totally amazing! This truly was something special. PETER FREESTONE is currently involved in a ‘Rock Camp’ extravaganza, helping youngsters in the Czech Republic come together to play rock music. 17 year old TOMY KRYL showed us how he had learnt to play the guitar. He gave a great performance for the conventioneers who showed their appreciation. PETER plugged an event he is holding with these youngsters at the Liverpool Cavern on 11th & 12th May. Sunday evening we welcomed from Italy, KINDS OF MAGIC, a most popular tribute band across Europe. They brought along some special guests with them and during an extended encore JAMIE MOSES played to rapturous applause. This year for the first time we held an arts competition we called BODY LANGUAGE. Fans showed their tattoos which fascinated many! Returning by popular demand was the QUEEN MIME, which was entertaining and the Q FACTOR.  We had our judging panel of PETER FREESTONE, GREG BROOKS, JACKY SMITH and we choose a member of the audience to sit on the panel. JOHN DAVIES was certainly dressed for the part in his formal suit! They all criticised the performers fairly and accurately. Round of applause to all who braved the panel! We had two fancy dress themes. Saturday night was QUEEN night and many dressed-up as members of QUEEN and in red, white and blue. Some tables were decked out in bunting and table cloths to celebrate Her Majesty’s Coronation. Sunday nights theme was 70s and we were treated to many dressed in 70s memorabilia. Nice to see tables decorated in purple to support QUEENS debut album 40th anniversary. Marvellous! We had a FANCY DRESS competition both nights for the Juniors and Adults. Some people put in big efforts and they were justly rewarded. Well done to everyone. VAL MOSS presided over the Official Merchandise Stall where there were plenty of goodies on offer, including the 2013 Convention T Shirt which was designed with thanks by JIM STEVENSON. The t shirt artwork featured an old photo of Freddie’s hand in his metal gauntlet glove. The striking image was taken by one of this years guests, DOUG PUDDIFOOT who thought the shirt looked superb! He also explained how Freddie designed the glove and put it together! These kind of stories make it so worthwhile being in the audience! Each year monies are raised for various charities at the annual CHARITY AUCTION. This year signed items by the band and more were on offer and all proceeds to the Mercury Phoenix Trust. MAUREEN BARCLAY held aRAFFLE for MPT as well and the fan club raffles proceeds benefited MacMillan Cancer Research. Thank you to everybody who bought an item in the auction and/or a raffle ticket. CHERYL DUKE from Arena presented Jacky and Jim with bouquets of flowers and personally thanked them for help given to her. Big thanks go to CHERYL DUKE and the ARENA Team, GRAHAM LONGWORTH for taking the photos and more, ROB DEAN for audio/visual assistance, LINDA and KEVIN MAHER for selling the raffle tickets,  the Security Team, the Guests,  the Musicians, the Vauxhall Park Staff and to everybody who came along for a weekend of QUEEN fun. Was It All Worth It?  You bet it is! If you have never attended a Convention seriously think about it as there’s nothing quite like it! You will share time with like-minded people with an electric atmosphere that has to be experienced to be believed! Next years Convention has been confirmed. The dates for your diaries – Friday 26th September – Monday 29thSeptember 2014. The convention will be held at Presthaven Sands Holiday Centre, Gronant, Nr Prestatyn, North Wales. Next year is the Official International Queen Fan Clubs 40th Anniversary so expect a big celebration at the convention. See you there.

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