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From: TerryMoselaol.com
Date: Mon, 5 Dec 2005 17:38:18 EST
Subject: Horlicks in East Antrim, Lidl scopes

Hi all,
 
A few dozen keen amateur astronomers have just been tested to some pre-Xmas  
Horlicks by the EAAS. And it wasn't even the drinkable variety. I write this  
more in sorrow than in anger, but even more as a warning to all clubs of  what 
can go wrong in organising a meeting.....
 
1. I suppose the first clue was that the email notice of the lecture was  
only sent out the day before.... ADVICE: Sent out all notifications /  reminders 
at least several days, and preferably a week, before the  event.
 
2. It then transpired that the lecturer, Dr John Butler of Armagh  
Observatory, still hadn't been told how to get to the lecture venue by Saturday.  So he 
rang, and was given directions by telephone.....  ADVICE: make sure  the 
lecturer knows exactly where to go, and how to get there, WELL in advance of  the 
meeting. Especially if it's unfamiliar territory, AND off the main roads,  AND 
at night. PREFERABLY send a map, as well as directions.
 
3. I arrived at Ballyrobert Primary School 15 minutes before start time, to  
find a few others waiting to get into a locked building. In the rain. We 
waited.  Others arrived. And waited. Some club officials arrived, and couldn't get  
in either. Official start time of 8.0 came and went. It appeared that the  
caretaker, who was supposed to open the school, was away playing bowls. By 8.30, 
 things were getting mutinous.....  ADVICE: Always double check with whoever  
has the key that they will open up, even if it's a regular timetable. FURTHER 
 ADVICE: Always have a back-up source for a key - without it, you're  totally 
banjaxed.
 
4. It wasn't quite so bad as you might think, as the speaker hadn't arrived  
either He had got lost in the dark and rain! ADVICE: Always get the speakers'  
mobile telephone number in advance, just in case. FURTHER ADVICE: always give 
 him/her several mobile tel numbers of club officials to ring in case they  
get lost. John finally arrived about 8.35 p.m. To a school that was still 
locked  and dark....
 
5. It was then decided to go to another venue. - Wait for it..... A  
woodworking workshop. This was several miles away, along a little country road  that 
only about two people knew. So it was decided to go in a car convoy - about  20 
cars. You can guess what happened next: Yep, well over half of them  got 
lost. ADVICE: Always give everyone precise directions to such a location,  
including the distances, and road name, and name of the location. DO NOT rely on  
such a large convoy staying together. Especially at night. And especially when  
there are several road junctions on a major road, where some cars have to give  
way to other traffic, and lose the others. 
 
6. About ten of us did make it to the workshop, where the owner had  put on 
heat, and was trying to clear sawdust off worksurfaces, get tools and  bits of 
wood out of the way etc. Then some garden chairs were brought in &  wiped dry 
and clean. ADVICE - I don't really know, except that a H&S  inspector would 
have nightmares!
 
7. So that was OK for those that had made it there? - Wrong! The speaker  was 
not among them.... ADVICE: in such a situation, make sure that the speaker  
travels with someone who knows the way, or that someone who knows the way  
travels with him/her in the car.
 
8. So we waited. 9.0 came and went. Still no speaker. No one had his mobile  
number so no-one could find where he went. Probably to near Larne,  
actually..... ADVICE: - even at the last minute, swap telephone numbers!
 
9. Well, there was always the Xmas refreshments to look forward to? (I had  
only agreed to go to the workshop because it was John who was speaking, and  
because of the mince pies....) Wrong. The chap with the mince pies etc had got  
lost too.
 
10. So, no speaker, no refreshments, only half a dozen chairs, no screen,  
and at 9.15, when the speaker should have been finishing, he hadn't even got to  
the new venue. At that point I gave up and came home, as did most of the 
others.  A wasted evening for me, and for lots of others, not to mention a 90 
minute  journey for John Butler, plus his wanderings in the wilds of East Antrim, 
and  his long journey home again. ADVICE: For something as important as a  
lecture at which you expect 40+ people to turn up, DOUBLE - CHECK everything,  
and then check again.
 
LIDL TELESCOPE OFFERS:
 
Lidls will be selling both the 70mm Skywatcher refaractor on equatrial  mount 
and tripod, and the Meade 70mm GoTO refractor, as from Mon 12th. More  
details when I've checked everything out.
 
Clears Skies - and commiserations to John Butler. I'll not mention any  other 
names, to save their faces. It's well I'm such an easy-going chap, or I'd  
have said a lot worse.
 
Terry Moseley

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