Sunday : Formal LDWA AGM Business, Final Pret and A Room with a View

This was the final day of the LDWA AGM weekend and it also contained the formal business, so I thought I’d better be prepared with sufficient food. The bacon was once again cooked to perfection so that it was suitably crispy and I think it’s important to call out excellent culinary standards where I see them.

Getting ready for the AGM with fruit tea and mini cola bottles, covering all the major food groups there. I had thought of bringing in the entire pot of sweets from the outside coffee area, but I didn’t want to look overly odd sitting there for the entire meeting with a huge pile of sweets. Hence the rather more discreet arrangement that I opted for.

Simon took this photo with my phone, just to explain how I’ve managed to be in it. I like how he’s captured us so that we all look equally bad.

And then we were off. It’s not really a long affair, the formal business is done within around two hours, but this was a notable year as it’s the first time that we’ve had a hybrid meeting. That means as well as people in the room, there were also ten people connecting to us via Zoom. This worked perfectly, but unfortunately a technical issue meant that we lost connection for around thirty minutes, but lots to learn from for next year. There were no questions from the members about my roles of communications, publicity, inclusion & diversity, perhaps they were all so pleased with the work that was going on. Or, alternatively, they wanted to listen to someone else and that’s probably more likely. The meeting seemed to go quickly to me, which is a sign of it being entertaining and informative, as meetings which seem to drag are really not ideal for anyone.

This is the Colin A Wormald trophy, which has a long history in the LDWA, but in essence it’s a cup which that every entrant can have their photo taken by on the LDWA 100. Here on the left is Aaron Hookway from this year’s LDWA Trans-Pennine 100 being presented the cup by David Morgan from South Wales LDWA who have had the cup for what probably seems like years to them. The last actual completion of the traditional 100 was the Hadrian’s Wall event in 2019 and I’m not sure that anyone expected it to be another three years before it was held again. Although there was the virtual event in 2021, did I mention that I finished that? I’m not entering this year’s 100 as it looked a bit hilly, but I’m looking forwards to being there for the weekend watching the brave entrants meandering across the countryside. It’s also the first time we’re using trackers so extensively, which means we’ll be able to see where every entrant is, giving an extra dimension to the arrangements.

There were a lot of certificates given out, as we have a lot of very helpful volunteers, but I’ll write separately about that for the LDWA as I don’t want to miss anyone out. Here’s Julie, the national chair, and Graham Smith, the outgoing Strider editor, who had given the AGM his final thoughts about his period as editor. It’s the end of his period in office and we’re all very grateful for his work, ensuring that the magazine is written by members and for members. Graham is being followed, but only for a short period (through his own choice I’d add) by Ken Falconer, who has edited the magazine twice before.

And here’s Julie and Madeleine, the outgoing general secretary, who we’ll miss greatly. I won’t mention the word numpty, which is a word that could never be used to describe Madeleine, as it got Stuart into trouble when he even briefly mentioned it in passing….. Madeleine is being succeeded by Bill Milbourne.

David and Aaron again and I make no comment about how the Trans-Pennine 100 have decided to adorn their trophy. I’m not sure how Norfolk & Suffolk will decorate the trophy in 2025, but hopefully with lots of crisps or something.

After lots of farewells, it was then time for the very successful AGM weekend to come to an end. With only one controversy during the meeting I hope that everyone enjoyed their weekend and found it useful and entertaining. It’ll also be remembered as the year where we started taking card payments for merchandise and I’m sure it’ll all look even more modern next year in the merchandising department. This was an extra special AGM for us as it’s our fiftieth anniversary, with the opportunity to meet the founder members and listen to previous chairs talking about their experiences being a highlight for me. Oh, and of course, the food, that was good too.

Richard (now recovered from his walk the previous day where he had to walk over a mile extra to what he had been promised) dropped me off in his car into Leamington Spa, where I had some work to do, these are the Pump Room gardens.

And the River Leam which flows through the town. I had a quick stop at the JD Wetherspoon outlet, the Benjamin Satchwell, before making my way to the town’s railway station.

The train was quite busy, but it was on time and other than the man vaping nearby and making the carriage smell odd, all went well and the power sockets worked. I’m not sure if if Chiltern Railways have a policy at the moment of guards not checking tickets, but I can’t recall the last time I can recall that happening.

Back into High Wycombe railway station, pondering once again that I’ve got so near to the town and yet to see the secrets that it holds as I haven’t left the platforms. That sense of wonder keeps me travelling, there’s always something to be discovered and I do hope that High Wycombe surprises and delights me when I finally get there.

Walking the short distance from the Wembley Stadium railway station to Wembley Park Boulevard I always feel that there’s something exciting going on, it’s something about the stadium and the buzz of activity that is common here when music and sporting events are held. The reality is somewhat different, there were just people milling about and two people playing football that were clearly getting in the way of pedestrians walking past. But like with England’s football dreams, I’m always hopeful when walking through Wembley that something exciting will happen.

The final day of my Pret subscription and I didn’t renew it as I’ll be going mostly to places without a Pret presence over the next few weeks. The cranberries in white chocolate were a gift from Pret Perks and I noticed that the quality of the hot chocolate was mediocre and that Pret hadn’t taken my advice to make it like the one that I had in Stratford-upon-Avon earlier on in the week. I went forty minutes before they closed and the shop looked like a small tornado had struck it and I noticed the customer who wanted a fruit smoothie but was told by staff that they had cleaned the juicers and weren’t willing to use them again. I’ve learned to never ask for such things at Pret even an hour before closing, but it’s really not ideal given the price points which they have.

With that it was off to the Travelodge Wembley High Road and I respected the chain for being quite honest here with their imagery, the pizza looks bloody dreadful in the photo, that tempers expectations somewhat. Given the lack of authenticity, they might as well ditch the Peroni, a generic and cheap Italian lager (not that I want to sound judgemental), and have something a little more innovative like a decent craft beer.

I was given this room which overlooked the main road and the pedestrianised shopping street and I liked this a lot. I find street noise quite relaxing, something about getting into the soul of a place perhaps, and it was a marvellous opportunity to people watch from two angles. The room was also spotlessly clean and felt quite modern, although the hotel is going through some major renovation works and so it’s possible they’ve only just done this room.

There was no shortage of milks and coffees when I asked for them.

And the view from my Wembley hotel room, all very relaxing.