Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Dipterists Forum Summer Field meeting 2013

It has been quite a challenge finding accommodation for next summer's field meeting. I have finally reached a solution with a venue based at Lancaster University that I hope will be OK.  We will be in self-catering accommodation, which is a bit of a departure from recent years.  However, my feeling is that it should be a good venue and that we will have a great time.

What I am struck by is the note I got back from Peter Chandler who reminded me that this next summer would be the 40th anniversary of the first field meeting. That calls for a celebration I think! It is hard to imagine that the field meetings started so many years ago and that several members still attend meetings!

My first meeting was in 1985 when a group visited Charterhouse in Somerset. As my memory serves me, the cook failed to turn up and Jane Stubbs and Christine McLean took on the role of cooks. My goodness how we owe them for that effort. It was a bit of an ordeal for me as a relative novice surrounded by people with lots of experience and including several (lots) of well-known 'names'. I only stayed for three nights I think, and during that time I made several lifelong friends - Roy Crossley, Mike Pugh, and Austin Brackenbury immediately spring to mind because they were so friendly and welcoming.

Today, the composition of the group has changed but I like to think that its general behaviour is much the same. If you are a novice you will be welcomed and embraced in a group rather than being left to fend for yourself. It is anything but elitist and many of us remember our first trip as novices surrounded by much more experienced Dipterists. We remain very egalitarian and welcoming.  The meetings were originally devised as a means of both training and square-bashing. These days we are far less avid square-bashers and far more avid proponents for developing people's interests. If there is a pub, we will even find time to go there! Speaking personally, all I want to see is people having a great time and looking forward to next year's meeting with old friends. My test for a meeting is to hear people saying - 'see you next year'.

Now, of course, that raises the question of whether it is an 'old' group? It is not. Last year in Scotland we had members aged 25 to 70+ attending. But nobody is old or young - it is just a group of friends on holiday. Ken Merrifield describes it as 'Alan's Holiday Club' - and he is not far wrong. Having said that, I must comment that there are times on DF meetings when it seems like 'last of the summer wine'. Who knows which bog Malcolm will fall into? And it is not just Malcolm - I have been known to end up sitting in a river with my haul of flies drowned rather than asphyxiated!

Forum field meetings are open to all entomologists who want to visit interesting places, although as a rule we tend to be better suited to daylight hours rather than those who favour the night and scaly jobs!

Come and join us. We will be in Lancaster from 6-13 July 2013 assuming all goes well.

A favourite photo of mine - Eric Philp and Stuart Ball bird-watching at Martins Haven, Pembrokeshire - who said we have to look at flies?
A retreat into Rob Wolton's barn during the Forum visit to Devon in 2011. It rained that day!

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