Saturday : Ramblers General Council

Breakfast in the Holiday Inn Express at Birmingham Snow Hill, Richard was keen to get an early start at 07:00 so I was just about the first one down. The bacon was crispy, so it was clear that this would be a good day (it’s like those traditional stories of seeing a crow and it’s going to be a good morning or whatever, but I’ve put a modern take on it). It’s a reliable hotel and it’s good to be rested for a day of sitting about in a chair….

After Richard drove us around Birmingham to get to the Birmingham Conference Centre, we met up with Steve, also a delegate from Norfolk, ready to get a drink. The Ramblers had booked two large rooms, although it was sad to see that most of the networking opportunities and chances for board members to discuss matters with delegates were lost due to the shortened nature of the weekend. Or to be precise, less weekend, more afternoon.

The current board members standing up to be applauded (or boo’ed, depending on your point of view I suppose). But these are all volunteers working hard for the Ramblers and I appreciate the big time commitment which they all give.

I was pleased with the sandwiches for lunch and although these events aren’t just about the food, it is a big component part…. Anyway, I mustn’t get distracted by fripperies.

Although I kept looking at the carpet of the Exhibition Centre and wondering why it looked familiar.

Then I remembered, the seats of Greater Anglia trains…..

Richard speaking for the board on a motion about risk assessments. I managed to make just one intervention on this, but was ready given my main speech was ahead.

But that didn’t happen…. I was meant to speak on the Norfolk motion about the future of the AGM weekend, but unfortunately the timing issues meant that half the motions went unheard. It’s a shame that the timing went so awry, perhaps there needs to be much more time given next year to ensure that people who have travelled a long way and prepared speeches can be heard. Here is Kate Ashbrook, who has stood down from the board after forty years and never missed a meeting. On the matter of inclusion and diversity, it was really positive to see so much discussion of this subject, there’s a need for the organisation to modernise. It’s always sad to see people leave the board for the final time after so much service (and no-one could deny the service which Kate has offered to the Ramblers), but there are no doubt some excellent board members that will be able to offer a different perspective in the future.

The Premier Inn at Birmingham International Conference Centre, but more on how much this hotel annoyed me in tomorrow’s post (I accept this isn’t a cliffhanger as good as Eastenders offer sometimes). There were some other guests who were staying for two nights, but the hotel thought they were staying for one night and threw their things away. This is, to be honest, appalling hotel management, I can’t think of any other chain that would do this. They put themselves in a sinister situation here because people will make assumptions about what has happened, but I have more to say about this tomorrow.

I feel the need to comment when having fish and chips at a pub or restaurant, although then again, I feel the need to comment about a lot of things. This was actually better than I expected, I was not displeased at all and was surprised that the restaurant at the Premier Inn offered such a large piece of fish which was cooked properly and wasn’t greasy. Very impressive. It was an odd sized restaurant though given the size of the hotel, I suspect it’s probably hard to get into at busy times when the rooms are all taken. We had to make a booking for our visit, although the restaurant wasn’t at all busy.

And this is the Norfolk contingent, Steve, Richard and myself. I waited for Steve’s food to arrive before starting, because I’m good like that. It was a useful time to meet other delegates who were also in the hotel, such is the advantage of this time.

I think that it was a productive day, but I much preferred the format of the weekends as they’ve been in the past. I’m sure that there will be consideration given to how best to manage AGMs in the future, but it’s important to engage with delegates not just in the formal business of the meeting, but also behind the scenes. It is perhaps so often the case that progress is made with the latter rather than the former, talking to people one on one to explain things often makes progress so much quicker.