The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
Burn 'em! Burn 'em!
What else could I be talking about except the wonderful Telscombe weekend. A pyromaniacs dream come true.
After a superb walk across the downs on 5th November, we wrapped up warm and headed into Lewes for the evening. Way more crowded than when we were here 5 years ago, we struggled to find a space to park. Inevitably we all got separated, but by some miracle virtually all of us arrived at the chip shop within minutes of each other. By this time the streets were already ablaze with torch-bearing Indians, smugglers, cannibals and Vikings. Narrow streets, pressing crowds, naked flames and flammable clothing - all the ingredients for a fun night out. All you needed to do was find a good vantage point. A group of us wound up watching the procession from a graveyard, but the gold star has to go to Jim for his prime position on the High Street. It must have taken about an hour and a half for the procession to pass, by which time we were all covered in soot. There were cries of "Burn em, burn em!" every time an effigy went past, it didn't seem to matter if it were Guy Fawkes or Admiral Nelson.
It was a slow walk back towards the cars as there were still torch-bearers in the streets making their way to the society bonfire sites. It wasn't long, though, before the fireworks started. Being the 400th anniversary of the gunpowder plot, I suspect they really pulled the stops out - it was certainly a fabulous display. The sky was filled with a wall of exploding light. A perfect way to round off the evening.
Remember, Remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot. The good burghers of Lewes haven't forgotten after 400 years, marking the 400th anniversary with a spectacular torchlit parade, and multiple fireworks displays around the town. Once you have been to Lewes on Guy Fawkes' night, a few Roman Candles in someone's back garden just isn't the same.
In a tradition going back generations, hundreds of people from the town's bonfire societies parade down the high street dressed as smugglers, red indians, etc, carrying torches and burning crosses, letting off thunderflashes and dragging burning barrels. Effigies of Guy Fawkes are greeted with cries of "Traitor!" and "Burn Him!". It seems odd that Sussex takes the 5th November so seriously, when the plot was in London, and Guy Fawkes comes from near Knaresborough where I come from. His one redeeming feature is one of the few people who went to Parliament to keep his promise.
I had booked Telscombe hostel 18 months ago to ensure we got this weekend, and except for a couple of late changes, the trip was fully booked. In addition to the Lewes bonfires, we spent Saturday walking on the South Downs in sunshine we weren't forecast to have. On Sunday, a few hardy souls walked on the downs from Alfriston to the long man of Wilmington in the pouring rain, while some left and others holed up in cafes and pubs in Alfriston itself.
Ten Pin Bowling
A late replacement for badminton given the problems booking a court meant that attendance was a bit low with only 4 intrepid bowlers - myself, Jim. Mike and Cressida.
Mike was very stylish in the first set winning comfortably with a few strikes. However, whether through tiredness or a reversion to more normal skill levels, he declined in the second allowing me to sweep to an unlikely victory, with over 100 points including two strikes in a row! Given my usual ball handling skills this is akin to a Brit winning Wimbledon! Jim and Cressida battled for the wooden spoon and both got some strikes.
We soon realised that we shouldn't give up our day jobs and retired to discuss tactics at a suitable venue (a Writtle pub!).
Congratulations to Lynn and Paul
Esther Louise Hawkins was born on Sunday 13th November at 3.53am, weighing 8lb 1oz. Congratulations to Lynn, Paul, and Katie!
Canadian Slide Show
Thanks to Dave, Jim, Mike and Ian for their spectacular slide show of their tour of the Canadian Rockies, and Calgary, Montreal and Quebec. Mountains, glaciers, tea shops, wildlife, trains and cars…fun to guess who took which photos!
A Historical Weekend in Salisbury
Around sixteen of us spent the weekend 14-16th October at Salisbury Hostel. The weather for both Saturday and Sunday was very good. Wiltshire is a splendid county for walks and sightseeing and is full of prehistoric and Mediaeval remains. Every aspect of England's long and varied past is present in the county.
The hostel is a white-fronted picturesque building dating from the early nineteenth century. A splendid cone tree in front dates from the 1830, according to a plaque inside the hostel. It is strange to think that when this was planted Victoria had not ascended the throne, the Iron Duke sat sternly in the House of Lords and the bicycle was still a vague idea in the minds of eccentrics.
On Saturday morning we walked to Old Sarum, which was the predecessor of Salisbury. Here on one site and very apparent is almost two-millenia worth of history, including an Iron Age hill fort and the remains of a Mediaeval castle and Cathedral. The Cathedral, begun by William of Normandy's Bishop Lanfranc, grew up by the side of the Norman castle, one of many built by William and his barons to secure their newly-conquered gains. Development of the Cathedral continued right up until it was abandoned by Bishop Roger in 1230 in favour of a new site at nearby Salisbury, then just a field with a few sheep. Historians still debate why Roger decided to move the seat of his bishopric: possible reasons include lack of fresh water at Sarum for the growing population, bad relations between the warden of the castle and the Bishop, or lack of room for expansion. Whatever the reason, Salisbury became the Milton Keynes of its day, albeit without stone cows.
In the afternoon we walked back to Salisbury and visited the 'new' Cathedral. This is a spectacular building, steadily developed by every Bishop since Roger ordered the first stones laid. I believe that only Lincoln can compete with it in architecture. In the Chapter House is kept a copy of the Magna Carta, wrung out of King John at Runnymead by the barons in 1215 and which forms a cornerstone of English law and of the law of most countries of the Commonwealth. Some of its clauses have found their way into the American Constitution.
From here we headed back to the hostel for a tasty dinner cooked by Yelitsa.
On Sunday we drove out to Tollard Royal and had a pleasant walk on a ridge giving us commanding views of Wiltshire and Hampshire. An eccentric note to the surroundings was given by the site of alpacas sharing a field with sheep : a mental association of Wiltshire with the Peruvian altiplano does not come easily !
A very good weekend. Thanks to Mike for organising it.
Slide Show of the Year
Thanks to everyone who contributed to our digital slide show of the year. We collected about 200 pictures from 9 different photographers. The pictures are now online, see Highlights of 2005.
Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer