Author Topic: Hidden Earth 2018  (Read 4479 times)

Offline Les W

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #25 on: July 19, 2018, 01:21:11 pm »
When I first attended Hidden Earth, although I think it was called the BCRA Conference then, it was at UMIST in Manchester and it remained there for many years.

seven years if I recall correctly

It's been at Churchill three out of the last four years if memory serves me correct with only the Eurospeleo event breaking up the run.  So there is a precedent for it to remain in the same location for many years.

It was at Churchill either side of Eurospeleo because our other "southern venue", at Monmouth in Wales, has actually been demolished, the entire school and the  leisure centre...
We also went to Monmouth when we should have been at Churchill as Churchill did major works and the venue wasn't available then.
I have been in communication with Monmouth very recently (as a result of looking for a venue this year) and am advised that the builders are suggesting the new leisure centre and school will be available in August 2019...

I think in an ideal world we'd all like to see it move around the country or the regions and that is clearly the aim of Les and the team. 

It is indeed the aim, but venue availability is the main driver...

I do worry, and from what Les says it appears to be true, that there just aren't the venues to run Hidden Earth like it has been in the past.

I'm not sure this is entirely true, the venues are there, but we need to make contact with them and convince them that they want us..
The real issue is that where we had regular venues, we had a relationship with them which made it easier to organise the event. We have temporarily lost one venue (Monmouth) and permanently lost another (Leek High)
We never really had a good permanent Northern venue so we are now only left with Churchill, but with Monmouth coming back on line, hopefully in 2020.

Not having regular venues actually increases the work load exponentially on already hard working volunteers.

We really do need to develop a "Peak District venue and a North venue, but there are major issues here as with smaller centres of population there are smaller schools, with less facilities...
The other issue is that all the regular venues have come about because a caver already had some sort of contact with those sites and was able to convince them we should go there. If there is anybody with a long relationship with any large school sites please speak with me...

Is it time for a change of format?  To think outside the box and review what sort of national event can be delivered given the resources available. 

On this point I will say the following. Hidden Earth is very successful, it has a format that seems to work and I am minded to the saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

However, like anything, it doesn't hurt to evolve, to keep it fresh and keep others interested.

Should we consider a larger budget?

Cavers are notoriously "Careful " with their money, unless its beer, or gear.  ;D
The event currently runs on a total budget of something like £10k. If we charged more then less would come, for sure. So the danger here is that a larger budget will be self defeating...

A different time of year?

Having it at a different time of year is problematic. The current "window" for the event is after the summer expos and before Freshers Fairs. A later date will lose delegates (we were 20% down last year and only just slipped into October...)
Earlier will be during expo season and we lose not only delegates but talks too...

Fitting it around other existing events is an issue too.

Do we need camping on site,

Camping availability has pretty much doubled attendance at the event so I think it's essential

to run our own bar, a sit down dinner and three lecture theatres? 

I take you back to "if it ain't broke..."
However, there is always room to change formats, but the effect of this won't be known until it's done...

The bar makes a substantial surplus on the backs of the volunteers, that money is put back into caving.
Typically, Hidden Earth donates £3k each year to Ghar Parau for expedition funding.
Money has also gone to BCRC for development work on rescue kit.
That money comes, predominantly from the bar...

The meal is there to ensure people that don't want to leave site (or cant, such as the staff) can actually get fed.

With three theatres we normally struggle to squeeze all the talks in. If we reduced the numbers, there would be less talks, but then a lot of people that offer talks would be miffed their offer wasn't taken up. I reckon they will be less likely to offer again...

What about less lectures and more field trips, some caving even.  Does it have to be a single national event, what about a series of smaller events around the regions, Cavefest meets Eurospeleo perhaps, or tie it in with other larger outdoor events.  How about getting regional councils more involved and identifying the event with them. 

We used to have a regional based Cavers Fair that moved around the country each year. It was similar in concept to what you suggest, but it petered out with lack of interest and lack of willing volunteers. It would be good to resurrect it, but it needs committed personnel in all the regions.
And the support of cavers.

CSCC has run similar events in recent years, normally on a two year cycle, typically when Hidden Earth has been further north that year. These have been quite successful, but the key organisers are the same people organising Hidden Earth, so it still requires a commitment from people to organise

There are always lots of options and ideas rather than the same old same old.  Happy to work on more ideas if you think it would help and good luck for this year.

As I said above, we will try anything, but it needs staff and support to make it happen. The management team is already overworked and although open to any ideas, the idea needs to come with it's own personnel to make it happen...

Thank you for your input and kind wishes
I'm a very busy person

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #26 on: July 19, 2018, 01:34:28 pm »
I suspect Alex's comments weren't entirely without tongue in cheek . . .

I'm fairly confident Les and team have done a very thorough job; like I posted earlier, all I can say is thanks.

I also suspect Les will have looked at this already (because I know it was also an early contender for Eurospeleo) but Lancaster University has a lot going for it (near the Dales, very easy access by road and rail, a recently reformed and enthusiastic uni club based there, etc).
I guess the issue there is that students may be back by the normal conference date.

(No need to reply Les, if you've already considered & rejected this option. You don't need to justify your choices to me  :thumbsup:)

Online Ed

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #27 on: July 19, 2018, 03:11:28 pm »
Maybe, just maybe to make Les's thankless task easier we as a community should consider

A) possibility of holding it in a non caving but easy access locality with facilities......Manchester, Brum, Leicestershire


B) paying a bit more.....sure cost is a big killer for many sites

C) accept an on site / provided bar rather than own

Offline Alex

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #28 on: July 19, 2018, 03:19:43 pm »
Quote
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Well clearly it is if you have had to spend 8 months of your life trying to find a suitible venue and still could not find anywhere.
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline Les W

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #29 on: July 19, 2018, 03:21:16 pm »
C) accept an on site / provided bar rather than own

Just to clarify, the reason we run our own bar is that when we didn't, who ever did would never believe our consumption figures and the bar always ran out of beer, on one memorable occasion at 9.30pm on the Saturday eve, in a brewery (ok, it was no longer a working brewery but was the Brewery Arts Centre...).

Running out of beer at a caving event is the biggest thing that can possibly go wrong. To ensure this doesn't happen we run the bar...
Running our own bar also allows us to support caving institutions and the like, from the bar surplus, so if the bar was run out of house then that revenue stream would disappear...

Running the bar isn't a problem for us, it's venues allowing alcohol on site that is. I don't know if that's still the case but schools in Skipton and Kirkby Lonsdale were adamant that there would be no alcohol allowed on site.
I'd like to hope the Yorkshire Dales have moved on a bit from those temperance days but I don't know if they have...  :unsure:
I'm a very busy person

Offline Badlad

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #30 on: July 19, 2018, 03:23:05 pm »
Thanks for your detailed replies Les.  I hope it's not keeping you from work too much as I know you are 'a very busy person'  ;)

You make a lot of sensible points as always, but I have never been much of a fan of the saying 'if it ain't broke don't fix it'.  The struggle and hard work you've had to find a venue suggests there are some difficulties to overcome.  It's also a phrase that's often used in caving politics to keep things the way they are and how a certain group like them.  How about another well known phrase, 'a change is as good as a rest'.  ;D

See you in Churchill.

Offline Les W

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #31 on: July 19, 2018, 03:28:05 pm »
Quote
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Well clearly it is if you have had to spend 8 months of your life trying to find a suitible venue and still could not find anywhere.

The event isn't broken, it's one of the big success stories of UK Caving.
Finding suitable venues is a time consuming, expensive task, but not an impossible one. Several of the venues I approached were suitable, but already booked for other events, in fact we were lucky to get Churchill and had to opt for a different weekend than the one we wanted, due to a prior booking for the venue...

I will be shortly revisiting a few of the venues I already tried, to see if we can get a booking for 2019, however, I am still happy for suggestions (and even happier for others to actually check sites out and make contact)

I will reiterate a point I made in an earlier post, If you have a long term relationship with a suitable school (perhaps you're a teacher, site supervisor, governor, etc.) then please get in touch with me...
I'm a very busy person

Offline alastairgott

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #32 on: July 19, 2018, 04:15:37 pm »
And the original topic can be found here, #20 downwards is where the discussion got up to back in March. https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=23242.msg292993#msg292993

With very few replies.
 Dribs and Drabs of Tumbleweed in Comparison to these 31 posts in 28hours.

Offline Alex

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #33 on: July 19, 2018, 04:36:31 pm »
I never saw that original post :( I think I was away.
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Offline Ian Ball

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #34 on: July 19, 2018, 05:21:35 pm »
One thing I've learnt from this thread is that I am glad I don't organise Hidden Earth!

Offline blackshiver

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #35 on: July 19, 2018, 09:02:41 pm »
Without Les (and other unsung hero's) doing what they do and just getting on with it UK caving would not be in the healthy golden age of discovery that it is now.

I think the aptly named speach by Roosevelt "The Man in the Arena" (Google it) applies to these people and hopefully we all know someone who puts more into caving than they take out.

The fact that Hidden Earth is taking place at all this year is a massive win for Les and the team. Thanks for the hard work guys.
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Offline moletta

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #36 on: July 20, 2018, 09:30:48 am »
Cave Fest are running active caving events. Do they have plans to move north? Craven PC and Bradford PC give bi-annual opportunities to access Gaping Gill. Forest of Dean have held events. There must be others too.  If there is something you'd like to see added, why not offer to run it?

Hidden Earth provides the opportunity for cavers from all areas and abroad to meet in one place and find out about what has been going on in all aspects of caving. Oh, and drink at a bar where the task of drinking it dry at least presents a challenge!

Caving needs both.

Offline moorebooks

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #37 on: July 31, 2018, 09:25:22 am »
I can't really see the point of 'going to' Hidden Earth, only then to go caving nearby instead, especially when many of us go caving every weekend anyway. Personally the last thing I want to do at a conference is...erm...miss the conference. It's a long way for me too unless I set off walking in a few days, but you never know. Well done to Les and the team for finding anywhere suitable - your efforts are much appreciated.

Public transport  - train down to Weston bus across to churchill easy peasy. probably easier than by Road

MIKE

Offline JoshW

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #38 on: July 31, 2018, 09:41:13 am »
I can't really see the point of 'going to' Hidden Earth, only then to go caving nearby instead, especially when many of us go caving every weekend anyway. Personally the last thing I want to do at a conference is...erm...miss the conference. It's a long way for me too unless I set off walking in a few days, but you never know. Well done to Les and the team for finding anywhere suitable - your efforts are much appreciated.

Public transport  - train down to Weston bus across to churchill easy peasy. probably easier than by Road

MIKE

alternatively check out if it's possible to get a lift of anyone nearby to get there, there will be people coming from all corners of the country, so sure there is someone that can get you there if you want to!

Offline mikem

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #39 on: July 31, 2018, 10:42:05 am »
I also suspect Les will have looked at this already (because I know it was also an early contender for Eurospeleo) but Lancaster University has a lot going for it (near the Dales, very easy access by road and rail, a recently reformed and enthusiastic uni club based there, etc).
I guess the issue there is that students may be back by the normal conference date.

(No need to reply Les, if you've already considered & rejected this option. You don't need to justify your choices to me  :thumbsup:)

Unis were mentioned in a previous thread, they run conferences regularly & charge accordingly...

Boston spa comprehensive between Leeds & York has a similar layout to Churchill.

Mike

Offline JoshW

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #40 on: August 10, 2018, 08:26:31 pm »
I also suspect Les will have looked at this already (because I know it was also an early contender for Eurospeleo) but Lancaster University has a lot going for it (near the Dales, very easy access by road and rail, a recently reformed and enthusiastic uni club based there, etc).
I guess the issue there is that students may be back by the normal conference date.

(No need to reply Les, if you've already considered & rejected this option. You don't need to justify your choices to me  :thumbsup:)

Unis were mentioned in a previous thread, they run conferences regularly & charge accordingly...

Boston spa comprehensive between Leeds & York has a similar layout to Churchill.

Mike

unis will have people back by then and most will have their own bars and be unlikely to want us doing our own.

Offline BradW

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #41 on: September 19, 2018, 08:22:32 am »
Thank you Les, Wendy, and all those involved in making this happen. I am looking forward to it, as I do every year.  :thumbsup:

Offline Mrs Bottlebank

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #42 on: September 19, 2018, 02:31:50 pm »
The Hidden Earth website describes the camping as basic. Having not been to Churchill before does anyone know the toilet facilities. Is it in the school during the night or portaloos.

Also, the only pub I can find in the village seems to only serve food 12 - 2pm.  Where does everyone get Friday tea and breakfast etc. Do I need to pack my camping kitchen?

Many thanks for any feedback.

Offline Alex

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #43 on: September 19, 2018, 03:09:49 pm »
I recall portaloos I am afraid during the night, the school gets locked.
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Offline BradW

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #44 on: September 19, 2018, 03:47:14 pm »
Mendip pubs are very popular for evening meals. If you want to eat out Friday or Saturday, it's best to book. Centre of the Universe excepted, of course.

Offline Les W

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #45 on: September 19, 2018, 03:53:31 pm »
The Hiddenhttps://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?action=unread Earth website describes the camping as basic. Having not been to Churchill before does anyone know the toilet facilities. Is it in the school during the night or portaloos.

Portaloos when the school is closed but that will be late, both nights and open again at 8 am so realistically, from midnight until 8am
Plan ahead...   :unsure: :-\

Also, the only pub I can find in the village seems to only serve food 12 - 2pm.  Where does everyone get Friday tea and breakfast etc. Do I need to pack my camping kitchen?

Friday tea can be obtained at a number of local hostelries, although they are a short drive away. Also the fish and chip shop at the crossroads is very good and there is Subway at the Petrol Station in Langford (about half a mile away)

Breakfast baps and similar will be available on site from the on site caterers, from early (around 8am I think  :unsure: ) both Saturday and Sunday, as well as meals during the day.

No fires or BBQs on the campsite, it is of course school playing fields...
Go careful with camp cooking, you wouldn't want to set light to your tent...  :o
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Offline Alex

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #46 on: September 19, 2018, 04:20:31 pm »
Also ensure you attach your tag to your tent otherwise they go around and burn your tent down, they did it in Leek!  ;)

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Offline Mrs Bottlebank

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #47 on: September 19, 2018, 04:30:59 pm »
Thanks all for you info  ;D

Offline Topimo

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #48 on: September 19, 2018, 05:00:19 pm »
Are campervans alright on site?

Offline Les W

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Re: Hidden Earth 2018
« Reply #49 on: September 19, 2018, 05:03:15 pm »
Are campervans alright on site?
They are, but not on the grass...
I'm a very busy person