The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
New Year on the Dark Side
The New Year trip to the Yorkshire Dales got off to a tremendous start with a couple of days of absolutely superb weather. Clear blue skies, pale gold winter sunshine and the tops of the mountains dusted white with snow. Most of the group took advantage of these near-perfect conditions for a successful attempt on Pen-y-Ghent. They returned to the café in Horton as the sun went down, rosy-cheeked and excitedly comparing digital pictures. The next day some of the hardier chaps did a similar conquest of an equally snowy Ingleborough, just to prove how tough they are. The rest of us were contented with more modest expeditions that involved the inclusion of one or more pubs & teashops. On losing track of the lead group on our walk, Dave received a call from Colin declaring that he was "in the Naked Man". After some brow-wrinkling and comments of "any one we know?", we were relieved to discover that the Naked Man was in fact a very fine teashop in Settle. Phew.
The proximity of our bunk barn to the Settle-Carlisle line brought out latent train-spotting tendencies in many of our members. Otherwise normal, rational people got an excited glint in their eye at the prospect of a passing train, and were not adverse to standing on a freezing hillside, cameras at the ready, waiting for one to arrive. Just a short drive up the road was the magnificent Ribblehead Viaduct. A breathtaking masterpiece of Victorian engineering, watched over by the enormous bulk of Whernside. Well worth a visit - anorak permitting.
The splendid weather at the beginning of our stay was never very likely to last and, true to form, it deteriorated as the week went on.. By New Year's eve it was still freezing cold, but with low, darkening clouds getting more threatening as the day wore on. It started snowing as we were preparing dinner - a few pretty swirling flakes at first, then getting heavier as it started to settle. By the end of dinner there were a good few inches down and it was icy cold, so we were very glad of our toasty-warm bunk barn to retreat to. Party preparations were well under way with a substantial drinks table, snacks and nibbles, and Jim's quality sound system primed and ready to go. Then at 11:30, just as the party was warming up, poof! We were plunged into darkness! After a moments hesitation and mutterings of "oh,dear" and "a fuse, d'you think?", there was a general exodus as people went in search of torches. It didn't take long for us to find out it wasn't just us, but the farm and village were dark too (and about 50,000 other people in the North West, as it turned out). Needless to say this put something of a damper on the proceedings. Our hip, happening party became something of a Petzel-lit miners convention as we crowded round Colin's wind-up radio to hear the bongs. Alcohol consumption was definitely down. No one could see what they were drinking and there was an extreme risk of ending up toasting the New Year with a glass of Cinzano (yuk!). After a couple of rounds of Auld Lang Syne and some general party banter, people started drifting away to their cosy sleeping bags. It was left to a small hard core to sit in the dark and reminisce on previous New Year disasters (Fire brigade last year, no gas to cook on Millennium eve). What can we possibly do for next year?
Many thanks to Farmer Neil and his wife for looking after us so well, and to the new landlord of The Craven Heffer who opened up specially to provide us with hot drinks on New Year's morning, in spite of having a pipe-bursting crisis of their own.
Sins of the New Year
For anyone who has indulged the sin of Gluttony over Xmas, the New Year trip, in theory at least, is an opportunity to walk off the excess baggage. It does however encourage the sin of Envy, as people compare their Christmas presents, and become competitive about the features of technical clothing and gadgets.
This year, it was Dave's robotic folding pen (which came out at suspiciously frequent intervals) - Waldy's new digital camera (which was apparently, better than Dave's) - John's interactive Buxton jacket (Christmas present to himself-) and Nigel's new trousers. This purchase was not necessitated by over indulgence at Christmas, but was due only to Nigel having excess wardrobe space in his new house. However, they did trigger an orgy of spending as others attempted to out-trouser him. Dave P raised the stakes with train-spotting trousers with interactive linings, which are too hot to walk in..(might they contribute to Sloth?), and Nigel then began to think seriously about a purchase of top of the range Paramo. He was last seen disappearing into the clothing shop in Settle, ostensibly to buy a present for Rachel......
Fire hits The Crown at Sandon
Apologies to anyone who hoped to meet us at the Crown last Wednesday. Unfortunately this charming old pub had experienced a large fire and was missing much of it's roof (therefore not open to customers). We called everyone we could think of who might have been coming to relay the change of plan, but couldn't realistically call everyone.
Many thanks to Marion for organising this event. Seven of us took part in a hard-fought competition of skill and determination, before one player emerged victorious! And very tasty those Smarties were too!
Christmas Trip to Bath Hostel
Christmas in Bath is a very marvellous thing. Wonderful German style market stalls selling mouthwatering gifts and hot spicy drinks. The gorgeous Bath stone glowing in the winter sunshine. The sound of singing from the abbey church echoing around the market square. Sally Lunn's tea shop with possibly the biggest buns in the whole world. A catalogue of Christmas treats that made slogging up the hill to the hostel weighed down by Christmas presents all worth while.
Another fabulous feast at CSJVH. Many thanks to all those who helped with chopping, scrubbing, roasting, boiling and the essential washing up without whom there would have been no dinner. Heartiest thanks also go to the three fabulous birds who laid down their lives for our ultimate enjoyment.
Orienteering in Thorndon Park
Thanks to Graham for organising a very pleasant stroll around the orienteering course. We all had a go with the map and compass looking for checkpoints, "It should be over there!"; "What's that behind you?!"
Congratulations to James and Marion on the announcement of their engagement.
Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer