Those who attended convention this year were in for some pleasant surprises. I arrived early on Friday to be greeted by a very welcoming member of staff, he explained where everything was, how I could obtain help during my stay if required, that I would be shown to my room later and if I needed any help with my bags that could be provided. Then he directed me to find the Convention welcoming team. This new venue is a calm oasis in the city of Birmingham. The house, I understand, was where Lord Cadbury lived and is now a Quaker run conference centre. The gardens are extensive and provide a beautiful, tranquil and refreshing area in which to take a stroll at the start or end of the day or inbetween sessions, go down to the lake and watch the wildlife, walk around the labryinth, explore the walled area or just to play a game of frisbee or go on the swing.
The house is large but there are plenty of signs all around so you don’t get lost and always people around to help. The dining facilities are welcoming and there is a formal dining room, a lovely lounge for coffee breaks and when the sun was shining a large number of tables outside to use. The food was plentiful and catered to all our needs – I will need to have a few days of abstinence!
The rooms were warm and comfortable – ethical products were provided in the bathrooms and fairtrade tea and coffee were also available in the rooms with a kettle. We were not allowed to use any candles but electric ones could be provided if they were needed.
We had the whole venue to ourselves and that created a lovely sense of community. Hilary Norman and Eleanor Dawson were our plenary speakers on Emotional Intelligence giving us plenty to think about and take away. We are all emotional creatures – we looked at how the Yoga Sutras helped us with our emotions. As always it will need some work and effort. There was a quote from Lynne Twist that Hilary used that starts “For me and many of us” that connected with many of us. Google Lynne Twist quotes and you will find it. There was a great selection of workshops to attend and plenty to discuss over all that food. There will be an article in the next Journal about the convention.
This new venue provided a much more supportive and comfortable location for our sangha. Hopefully now that people have experienced the difference the news will spread and next year will be equally as inspiring.