Community websites on the cheap

websitescollageI have been in Round Table for a few years now, and really should have known better than to admit  I worked in the computing industry – I got “volunteered” to manage the existing website.  Me and my big mouth… But after a while I decided I would like to modernise the rather traditional and static website that I had inherited. The main constraints of this revamp were (a) it had to be cheap, and (b) I’m no web designer! In other words – no money and no talent. The reason for “cheap”, by the way, is that Round Table is a voluntary service organisation – we have a good time doing all sorts of things, but primarily we raise funds for charity and help out in our community. For more information on Round Table and what we get up to, follow this link.

So my challenge was how to put together a community website using – ideally – one of the free or very cheap services out there “in the cloud”. It had to look reasonably good, and also include an email infrastructure to help keep the 200+ members in touch.

This article describes the software and services used to create and manage a modern community website,  and the reasons for choosing them. I describe the basic steps to get up and running quickly, including optional links with Twitter and Facebook. There are doubtless a number of alternatives, and I make no claims to my solution being the best or being suited to the needs of everyone. But in explaining the choices made I hope to at least help guide those who want to do something similar.

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3 Peaks Challenge – Part 2: The hikes

Setting off, 5pm Friday

Setting off, 5pm Friday

In this second article on my recent 3 Peaks challenge I describe the hikes themselves and the transits between the mountains. See Part One for a description of the challenge.

My personal times were:

Mountain Start Summit reached Back at base Distance
Ben Nevis 5pm 7-50pm 10pm 10 miles
Scafell Pike 4-30am 6-30am 8-30am 6 miles
Snowdon 1-45pm 4-10pm 7-30pm 8.5 miles

So as you can see I did succeed and completed it – I got to the top of Snowdon in a shade over 23 hours. I was a little disappointed not to get down again within 24 hours, but as you will discover when you read the account of each mountain, I just count myself lucky to have even finished at all, irrespective of times.

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3 Peaks Challenge – Part 1: Overview

3Peaks-03 On the weekend of June 20th I took part in the national Three Peaks Challenge to try and climb the three highest peaks in the UK mainland within 24 hours. Starting off at Ben Nevis (1344m) in Scotland, I also climbed Scafell Pike (978m) in the Lake District, and ended up at Mount Snowdon (1085m) in Wales. In all there was about 25 miles of walking, hundreds of miles driving, and not too much sleep. I was part of the Long Eaton Round Table team of 20 walkers attempting the challenge, all to raise money for various charities including Multiple Sclerosis research. I’ve written here the story of the team’s efforts. But this post, however, is intended to be a more personal account of the challenge itself, the training and the preparation that went in to it.  Along the way I’ll mention a bit about taking photos on the way. Hopefully it will provide an interesting and useful resource for others who are doing the challenge too.

This is the first of two articles on the challenge, describing what it is and how we went about it. Part Two will go into the experience itself.

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