Well, Awayday obviously means a day away from the office, instead getting together in some stimulating and distracting envoronment such as a colleague's garden, bringing a favourite dish for lunch. When my old department had better economy we went away for a couple of days to Florence or Amsterdam or Dublin. Now we only go away to a museum with a nice lunchroom. The agenda for awaydays is always the same: someone starts with a lamentation about current issues, then we are divided into groups and assigned a topic to discuss. I have a friend who has published a book titled I Hate Group Discussions. For me, however, the deliberations in John's garden are useful as I become involved in the problems and issues. I try to identify possible tensions and undercurrents. As as newcomer I am cautious. I imbibe the sense of community. I need to learn the jargon and the numerous acronyms, witout revealing my total ignorance. I make a mental note about the pronunciation of Michaelmas and tripos. I show off by volunteering to give an inaugural during Lent. Away from home on an awayday, I am becoming part of the gang.
Incidentally, for favourite dish I was bringing three cans of Swedish pickled herring. but the airpott securinty didn't let it pass. Fortunately, I could find substitutes at the Waitrose supermarket.