Archive for the 'News' Category

2011 Calendar for Sale

A new way to support the group has just been introduced – a Leicester YHA Group calendar. Don’t worry, we’re keeping our clothes on, but it is packed with pictures of group members doing what we do best – enjoying the great outdoors!

Each calendar costs £9 (though once you add in postage and VAT, it comes to about £14), which includes a small contribution to group funds.

A preview of what you’ll get for your money can be seen below:

You can order your calendar direct from lulu.com. Order before 31st December and you can get a 10% discount by entering the code NEWYEAR355 at the checkout. Order by the 19th December, use the code UKWEEK3, and get a 30% discount!

Website wins Award

At this weekend’s Affiliated Groups’ Conference, Leicester won first prize (jointly, with Dunstable group) in the President’s Awards Best Website category.

The Presidents Awards is an annual competition between YHA groups, where they are judged on such aspects of their operation as publicity, programmes, newsletters and fundraising. The idea is that, by learning from the winners, all groups can improve.

Leicester group won the best website category for five years running, since its introduction in 1999. Though this year sees a return to winning form, the site will not be allowed to rest its laurels. A redesign of the site has been in preparation since the new year (ironically, partly in an effort to win this award!) and should go online in the next week or so.

A certificate and cheque (for the group, not for me!) were awarded by Caroline White, the Chief Executive of YHA. A full list of winners of all categories can be found on the yhagroup.org.uk site.

Chairman’s Report 2009

Well 2009 is almost finished. We are holding only one AGM this year and I hope to see most of you keen supporters attending at the Western Pub in Western Road. Some folks will be going early to enjoy the catering at 7.00 p.m. prior to the business proper which commences at 8.00 p.m. There is no need to book a place just turn up, as it is a pub that does regular catering.

I note that last year I made comments about there being only a few day walks but there have been some this year the most noticeable being a training walk in readiness for the weeklong series of day walks along St Cuthbert’s Way. This epic was enjoyed by all those who could get time off from work starting from Melrose SYHA Hostel and finishing in a B & B next to the A1 back in England. This was the second time this year that the group had walked to or from Scotland. The first time was from a small self-catering bunkhouse in Northumbria. The Ministry of Defence was spending the taxpayers money training our troops for combat next to Barrowburn hostel when we stayed there. Getting to the place was daunting for some as a bridge was under repair, which caused long diversions. Each vehicle took a different route or so it seemed when the drivers compared notes. I as a driver was thwarted in crossing the ranges from the A68 by one hour as the army was shooting at any moving thing and had been doing so for an hour before I arrived and rang for permission to go along the normally open road. The manoeuvres were to last for several days.

The St Cuthbert’s Walk was an excellent piece of organised logistics four drivers ferrying cars and members from the finish or to the start of each day’s trek. The last day was across the sands, far safer than the tarmac road, to Holy Island itself, some managing to do so in boots whilst the majority chose to subject their toes to the custard consistency ooze on parts of the crossing. Dave Self and I left before the completion celebrations to travel to York YHA for the AGM. Local YHA Groups still have a right to send five delegates to the YHA AGM from the local groups conference. Next year this conference will be held at Milton Keynes hostel in late March, probably the 20th, but the date has to be confirmed. Your Chairman is writing a constitution for this occasion now that the changes to the YHA constitution are settled to member’s satisfaction.

I cannot comment on other weekends as I did not attend but there were the usual trips to Tanner’s Hatch. It remains to be seen what changes will take place now that Sarah the previous long-term manager has left. It was a sad occasion following our last visit as an extra day added to the Puttenham barn weekend. Dave Self and I did have the opportunity to thank Sarah for making our group visits enjoyable and also to wish her well in the future. If you have not been before then I recommend you take the earliest opportunity to join Dave on one the next few planned visits.

There will be a return trip to Puttenham camping barn next year during the late May bank holiday to visit the beer festival at the local pub, called the “Good Intent”, a former16th century coaching inn.

Well now to the more immediate future. I again am organizing the Christmas weekend to Kington in response to the members who last year wanted a repeat visit. Things are slightly different in as much as the Olde Tavern has changed hands and no longer does food on a regular basis so I have booked the meal in the nearest pub towards the town centre from the hostel known as the Angel Inn. The food quality and the beer quality are excellent.

I hope to see you at the AGM to express your views and air your grievances this being the only time of the year for ordinary members to so do.

New Look for Slideshows

The Slideshows section of this website, used to show pictures of past group events, has been given a radical new look.

The initial “choose a show” pages list the available shows in a more attractive manner, including a small version of one of the pictures. Once you’ve chosen a show, the pictures are presented in a manner more like, well, a slide show. Just sit back and enjoy, and click on any picture to find out more about it.

All this is made possible by moving the picture storage off-site, to one of the web’s biggest photo sharing sites: Flickr. This has the benefit of taking the strain off leicesteryha.org.uk’s disk space, as well as presenting new ways of showing the images.

But neither of those is the main reason for making the change. The main reason is you.

If you’re in the habit of taking and using a camera on group events, the new system is intended to make it as easy as possible to share your best images on the website. Here’s what you need to do:

Now you’re all ready to start contributing photographs to the group web site. Here’s how to do it:

  • If you have some photos that you think would make a good slide show, contact the webmaster to get a unique “tag” that identifies that event. If you want to add some images to an existing show, the tag is the last bit of the show’s web address (e.g. the tag for the “London” slideshow is “london06”).
  • Upload your pictures to Flickr, making sure you tag them with the chosen word. Feel free to add other tags, geo locate your image and do other Flickrish things to it too if the fancy takes you.
  • Send your pictures to the Leicester YHA Flickr group.

That’s it! Various clever (and not-so-clever) bits of scripting will automatically incorporate your works of art into our website!

I hope the group’s photographers will take up this opportunity. Like many aspects of the group, success depends on the work being shared between many hands rather than falling on one person. Let’s show the world some of our great events!

We’re on Twitter too!

First there was Facebook, then Google Calendar , what could next in this parade of Web 2.0 goodness? Twitter, that’s what.

Sure, we might not quite be in the same league as Stephen Fry just yet, but he won’t tell you what’s going on in your favourite walking group will he?

So, to get an update whenever news is posted to the website or a programme event is added or updated, just follow leicesteryha in your Twitter account.

We’re on Facebook

Here’s some news for anybody who has an account on the popular social networking site Facebook. There’s now a Leicester YHA Group on the site where members can get together. If you’re yet to join Facbook, maybe this is the excuse you need? There’s games and other fun stuff to do there, and it’s free too!

Chairman’s Report, Autumn 2008

It doesn’t seem so long ago since I last penned a report. In fact it was only April this year. The latest copy of “YHA Life” has on the back page a headline “YHA Groups – A great way to hostel” Well we all know that fact that is why we are all members of Leicester YHA Local Group, but it is again recognised by the management at Matlock. I did speak to Caroline White to let her know that at Coalport hostel there was no Groups affiliation poster. I was representing YHA Hostelling and Local Groups at the YHA AGM, my name badge stating this at the time of speaking to her.  All hostels had been sent the latest 2008 Affiliation groups poster earlier during this year. Crewenna Dymond had done her bit, but had sadly been let down by the hostel management.

Recently I was at Coverack Hostel for three nights, and lo and behold, on a notice board were all three styles of local groups poster. The 2001 version with the long list of names, so I took the opportunity to amend Phil Humphrey’s phone number at the top of the second column. The green triangle one, designed by me and Sarah White on the corner of her desk in Matlock office three or so years ago and the present one (2008) in burgundy with happy smiling faces of youngsters enjoying hostelling.

Well this group of ours is going well although some wish for more day walks. But August was the wettest on record and I am not aware of anyone in the group with the capacity to walk on water. It is therefore unreasonable to expect any member to come forward with offers to lead evening or weekend day walks with the weather outlook promising such awful underfoot conditions.

A book “The Spirit of YHA” has recently been published and is reviewed in YHA Life’. I have seen a copy and can recommend it to anyone interested in the early days of damp beds and rope ladder fire escapes, when it was essential to arrive under ones own steam by cycle or foot. The cost is £20.00 the proceeds from the sales going to support the small hostels fund. This is a fund for small hostels and not a small fund for any hostel. Lindsey Porter, one of the co-authors will ensure the funds are not diverted to other YHA needs. It is hardback, 192 pages long and profusely illustrated with hostels and hostellers, most of whom appear to aged between twenty and thirty. The YHA mission statement has remained unchanged over all the years.

There is talk of exciting weekends for next year with city hostels being considered for January. We have to get through this year first. Last Christmas weekend was an exciting happy time with some very surprised members awarded some lasting mementos. What will this year have in store? Well for one thing there will be no self-catering on Saturday night but a trip the local hostelry where the meal is already booked. Health and safety is always present. With this in mind the local hospital is between the hostel and the pub. The pub is the Olde Tavern. It features in the 2009 edition of the Good Beer Guide. The description states

Part of Kington’s history – this award-winner is one for the connoisseur. A small, unspoilt two-room time warp. It has a small public bar full of fascinating curios, including the 1920 refurbishment plans that never came to fruition. At the rear is the diminutive Jake’s Bistro, serving exceptional value English cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients. The opening hours are given as 6.30 – 1.00 am on Fridays, and 6,00 – 1.00 Saturdays.

This was the Chairman’s choice.

I trust that you will attempt to find time to attend the second AGM this year. There will be a meal before the formal business. Hope to see you there. There will only one AGM next year. Should you wish to volunteer to help to run the group all future meetings will be held in the Western pub in an upstairs room.

New Look for YHA Website

The YHA have redesigned their website, giving it a clean new look with plenty of good photographs to brighten it up. Go and take a look for yourself.

[Added – There’s a full review of the site on the YHA Groups’ website]

To Affiliate or not to Affiliate?

That’s the question the committee are wrestling with at the moment. Normally affiliating to the YHA each year is a matter of routine, but the name change fiasco and certain changes to the rules are making us hesitate this year.

All group members are requested to read up about the issues we face, and let the committee know what you think. After all, it’s the future of your group we’re talking about!