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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 22 Oct 2012, 18:00 
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12 weeks is helpful to get the lowest train fares!

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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 22 Oct 2012, 18:18 
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That's a very good point, especially since some people within the UK have mentioned cost as a contributory factor. £30 for a whole weekend is fabulous value and I'm very impressed that the organisers have managed to keep costs down so much, but if the train to get there costs a lot it'll still be too much for some people.

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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 22 Oct 2012, 18:31 
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Just to give some idea about the issues with train fares (the train fares in this country are a disgrace, but there's not much we can do about it!), the cheapest return fare between Manchester and Milton Keynes is £58, even booking 3 months in advance. From Newcastle, which I just picked because it's the nearest main station to South Shields, it's £86, and that's if you change twice - otherwise it's £110.

Sorry, I know that's not very helpful :lol:, but I think that's partly why people are suggesting moving the venues around - although I fully understand that, as Kathryn said, it's not easy to find somewhere suitable.

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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 22 Oct 2012, 18:44 
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I wasn't going to add to this, but changed my mind :) Having been to three Robin Hole Gathers, and a couple of day cbb and Focs ones, you are always made to feel welcome. Everyone is lovely and no-one bites :-D though I was nervous on my very first one, it was all ok - I need not have worried!

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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 22 Oct 2012, 18:48 
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From reading Catherine's post, I don't think she mooted the idea of a Guernsey weekend as an alternative to the weekend gathers, just as idea to do something different. Personally, I think doing other stuff would be great and with enough warning to allow people to save up and plan, it could work. I don't think there was a suggestion that Guernsey or a weekend exploring Hereford for example would be comparable on cost. And as an occasional thing there is no reason why it should be.

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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 22 Oct 2012, 19:26 
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Alison H wrote:
Just to give some idea about the issues with train fares (the train fares in this country are a disgrace, but there's not much we can do about it!), the cheapest return fare between Manchester and Milton Keynes is £58, even booking 3 months in advance. From Newcastle, which I just picked because it's the nearest main station to South Shields, it's £86, and that's if you change twice - otherwise it's £110.

Sorry, I know that's not very helpful :lol:, but I think that's partly why people are suggesting moving the venues around - although I fully understand that, as Kathryn said, it's not easy to find somewhere suitable.


I don't think anyone is opposed to the venue moving but until somebody can find a suitable venue that's equally convenient (ie not in the middle of nowhere, good train/bus links) there's not really much we can do about it.

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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 22 Oct 2012, 19:30 
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My first ever Gather was a day Gather held in London in September 2005. There were 17 of us and I really enjoyed it. I have enjoyed all the Gathers I have been to. I did think it would be great to have another London Gather but I am the world's worst organiser!

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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 22 Oct 2012, 19:58 
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It does look like a good place but I think the cost will still be a lot more than £40 when you add everything that the £30 for HL/RH includes and it will be for less time. It doesn't, for example, look like there's a communal kitchen that we could use so there would be an additional cost for meals and I don't know whether there is a space for activities or if we'd have to hire a separate hall/room etc. It's also not set in stone as to who organises the big gathers though so if someone/some people think they can make it work, go for it.

ETA It looks like it would be another £150 or so for a room :/

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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 22 Oct 2012, 20:23 
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Sugar wrote:
From reading Catherine's post, I don't think she mooted the idea of a Guernsey weekend as an alternative to the weekend gathers, just as idea to do something different. Personally, I think doing other stuff would be great and with enough warning to allow people to save up and plan, it could work. I don't think there was a suggestion that Guernsey or a weekend exploring Hereford for example would be comparable on cost. And as an occasional thing there is no reason why it should be.



Thank you, Sugar. I certainly never suggested that anything like that would be comparable on cost. Though, a travelodge room costs around £30 for one night which would be £15 for two sharing - plus breakfast, lunch and maybe one or two dinners depending on arrival/departure times. Neither Lunch nor dinner need to be anymore than a pub lunch or pizza so there would be no need for it to be an extortionate weekend. The gather weekend cost me in the region of £100, factoring in travel as well as the cost of the weekend (excluding books bought!) and since I didn't enjoy it all that much but didn't want necessarily want to lose touch with people, I thought there might be different ways of Gathering that I might enjoy more and that new people might find it easier to join in if it wasn't always in the same locations and that people might be open to a change now and again. That's all.


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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 22 Oct 2012, 20:26 
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Now I'm back at home for a few hours and not dashing off to provide more elderly relative care :roll: , I can give people a breakdown of costs from the last Robin Hole

booking fee (which is ridiculously cheap) plus electricity = around £8.75 per person for the weekend.

Complete cost for the weekend was £25.80 so we used £17.05 for the entire weekends food (and very fabulous food it was too) drinks including some wine, and all other costs eg printing photos for the Caption Competition, any preparation stuff for games, some prizes etc and including chocolates for the Robin Hole Committee as a massive and much earned thankyou. They always say we shouldn't but so far haven't given them back to me!

So that means that to keep the cost under £30 per person for the weekend total accommodation costs needs to be around £12-£13 maximum (assuming my maths are correct) per person and we need to have a large room to gather in, enough sleeping space (bunks or mattress space in a separate room) and kitchen facilities.

And yes I do try to post the details as soon as they are confirmed. Big apologies that I haven't posted the details of the annual Leeds day gather in November at my house yet, I only set the date as the 24th a few days ago - so I will go and do that now! And it would be fabulous to have some people who haven't yet gathered. It's a very laid back day where we eat lots of cake, drink lots of tea, chat, do a quiz (there will be prizes) and people seem to spend quite a bit of time perusing my bookshelves!
It's a day gather but there will be limited floor space for the night if needed.

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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 22 Oct 2012, 20:31 
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Thanks Dawn, I don't have my HL spreadsheet to hand but the costs are relatively similar. I think accommodation is slightly more but I know we tend to absorb some of the other costs so that we can keep it under £30 or so.

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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 22 Oct 2012, 20:48 
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Oooops - just realised that I didn't include Public Liability Insurance as one of the things we have to cover out of the rest of the money. although Robin Hole don't insist we have this, Heron's Lodge does and we split the cost between the 2 weekends (£80ish per gather)

Obviously if there are any other residential gathers which take advantage of the Insurance, it would be nice to split the cost further :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 22 Oct 2012, 21:52 
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Well, I've never been to one, although I frequently go to the local FOCS group meeting (I was taken to my first one, so I've never shown up knowing nobody, and had already made friends with the person who brought me via text message a good while before I actually met her).

I haven't been to the weekends organised (or that used to be, anyway) by FOCS either. I've thought about both and generally dismissed the idea for a few reasons. The first one is really the distance - I can fly to the UK for a weekend, but I generally want to do my own thing and see somewhere when I do that; over-organisation puts me off a bit! If I went over for a longer time, then I'd probably be more likely, but that involves using holiday time etc... so it's hard to motivate myself to do it.

The other thing is that I have this idea in my head, which I think this thread has helped to dispel a little bit, that a gather would be extremely over-organised and I'd be regimentalised into activities - I got that idea very strongly about the FOCS weekends when people I knew came back from them. I love the CS books and all but that doesn't mean I particularly want to live the boarding-school-environment life for a weekend! But it does sound like you go according to people's wishes at the gathers and let things slide if they're not working or wanted, and that's better! :) (I'd also probably panic about people I don't know, not getting on with someone, or having anyone shout "Your grammar!" at me when I'm just speaking conversational English, a la CS books! But those things wouldn't freak me out until I'd actually committed to go...) And there's no way I'd sleep in a dorm, did that in Irish college and let's just say I'm not in a hurry to repeat that particular experience. (B&B = grand!)

It would be lovely to have a CS themed tour or outing or even day trip. I could combine that with a normal trip to the UK and still see something new and of interest, while meeting other members. Perfect.


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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 23 Oct 2012, 17:05 
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I know I don't post very frequently anymore, but having seen this thought I'd add a few comments.

Re a weekend gather other than at RH or HL...I know that several times various people and groups of people have looked for other accommodation and one year we did try out a place near Manchester (Where local youths scared us by climbing on the roof!). The biggest problem any of us who have looked have found that looking at cost, distance from train/major roads, accessibility, functionality (kitchen and meeting room) leaves very few options open. Also more and more scout and guide places are beginning to restrict visitors other than registered groups, and we aren't a group of guides, or even a group belonging to any overall organisation such as WI which would give us 'credibility'. Other people have gone into a breakdown of costs, so I won't repeat that. I think if anyone can find a place to gather then if they can post on the board and suggest it then everyone would welcome the idea, and if you suggest a place it is up to you if you want to help organise there or not.

I have been away with another group, a much smaller one and we have rented cottages (on their own or a few together) for the weekend and it has been much more expensive, esp as we also need a workshop room and we have paid £100 with me suspecting that the organisers have subsidised part of it as well.

Re activities. The first few gathers were highly structured, but as time went on feedback on the whole was that people preferred an option of activities, with a few organised events, but mainly things that could be done if the mood struck.

As far as I am aware day gathers in any area of the country can be organised simply by people posting and saying 'lets do it here'. If it is posted on the board and open to all who feel they can get there, then it is a cbb gather and if you want to host one or have one in your town, then suggest it. I know there aren't many people live near me so I don't tend to watch the local gather threads but I presumed they were still happening. Every local gather will have its own flavour, and in the past there have been local gathers organised around specific events as well - such as the children's book fair or Daisy Pulls It Off. It doesn't need a committee for these, just someone saying 'shall we' and someone else saying 'yes'.

I think the idea of special weekends in various book locations is an excellent one for those who can afford it. It just needs someone who can afford it, who fancies doing it to start looking into ideas for accommodation, itinerary, meals etc and and post the ideas to see if anyone is interested and for those who are to form an organising committee and get the weekend going.

I think there could be a place for a variety of different gathers, day and weekend and possibly instead of two weekends a year, more frequent, but smaller and possibly more regional or specialised. A gather where the focus will be on Chalet style rambles; A gather where the focus will be on Chalet 'hobbies club'; A gather based on a location; A gather full of cbb madness; A gather with games; A gather with nothing planned. We are all different with different likes, dislikes and physical abilities, so why not have a variety of different gathers - all it takes is people who want to do it and people willing to organise.

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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 23 Oct 2012, 18:49 
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On the theme of Gathers in CS related places, I'd like to point out that many of our favourite (and most important) characters spent quite a bit of time in Toronto...

Though the Gather would NOT involve a visit to McGill - it being about a five hour drive away (in another province).


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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 26 Oct 2012, 12:18 
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I'm not much of a Gatherer as I don't do well in groups - I've been to a couple of FOCS meetings in London, and, of course there was the informal mini Escape the Royal Wedding Gather in Pertisau last year (which wasn't really a Gather, but there was rather a nice walk which would have been to Geisalm if the lake path hadn't been washed away!).

It's simply just that Gathers aren't really my thing.


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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 26 Oct 2012, 17:48 
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Oh, that was a pretty awesome non-gather, wasn't it, Annabel?

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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 26 Oct 2012, 19:01 
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In principle I like the idea of meeting up somewhere else CBB related but cost is an issue.

One Idea I had was where a mixture of a more informal friday and SUnday with specific activities on saturday from about 10.30 to 4 would encourage people who don't want to spend the weekend with strangers or sleep in a room with others might be a way to encourage more people to come.

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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 28 Oct 2012, 11:09 
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I've been to the four Scottish gathers mentioned by Joey further up the thread (hosting one of them) and have really enjoyed it. We don't do anything formal apart from the odd quiz and we basically sit around and chat about books and other things. (Before I went to the first one I had to be reassured that nobody would make me play 'slidey mats' :) )

One of the nice things about it is that you make friends who, chances are, you wouldn't necessarily get to know otherwise; it's good to get different perspectives on things.

Possibly at the other end of the scale, I also very much enjoyed the recent Topsy Turvy conference in Bristol - it was a full weekend and was organised around papers delivered on a variety of GO/children's literature topics. It was held at one of the university halls of residence, so everyone had their own room, and it was catered.

Of course this did mean it cost significantly more than £30 per head :lol: but it felt good value to me.

I don't see why there shouldn't be lots of different styles of meetings between CBB members (and others) - in fact, I think there probably are, one way or another - and there's nothing to stop anyone who wants to do anything different from organising something, be it a meeting in a nice tea shop or a weekend to Guernsey. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Gathers
PostPosted: 28 Oct 2012, 11:38 
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Is there anybody else who went to one gather, felt they totally didn't fit in, and hasn't been again, or is that just me?


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