>> Thursday, January 28, 2016
Every year I say never again and then I book it. It snowed the weekend before, my Thursday morning start to work was at -3C, on Friday when I woke up it was hammering down with rain but had at least started to warm up.
Because we go to (unheated, no electricity) pods and there is a camp kitchen (gas rings and pots and pans) It isn't so bad to go mid-winter. I don't have to get out all the kit or worry about drying tents but I still had to pull 2 carts of kit up a wet hill of long grass.
About half way up it became very hard work, I couldn't pull it forwards at all and only just made it move by turning and pulling backwards.
And I stood there for a while and thought "why the hell am I in a cold, wet field trying to shift weight I can't move at my age" and then I decided it was no harder than boxercise and there was a lovely sunset about to happen and I was off again. (My back is not my best friend since though.)
But once I'd got the flag and lights up and the first Rangers started to arrive it started to feel more like fun.
Because of the training I've done now, I started a fire like a boss and was chatting away to the rangers whilst I did it. They decided mine was too far over on the alter, and started one the same way at the other end. So great training without any 'lecturing' there. Best way to learn is by doing it.
And whilst they fetched more wood and did the macarena I went and put the kettle on.
They are going to put electric into this kitchen, I'm slightly worried it will take the soul out of it. But I guess you don't have to switch the light on.
I had a group of girls with me from another part of our division, they came on the night hike with us last Autumn.
But their behaviour was so guide like. Disappearing into the pod to avoid doing anything, appearing only for food, complaining about the set-up, messing around at the fire, throwing all the skewers onto the floor in a dangerous pointy in the dark pile and then saying "it wasn't me". I was so disappointed with them but they made the girls from my own unit stand out like guiding stars and that made it ok. It really made me appreciate them. I suppose the girls in my own unit have more respect for me because they know how hard I work for them, it becomes a 2-way thing, despite some ups and downs across the meetings. But the extra girls were wholly painful.
But a leader I haven't seen for quite a long time came to join me and it was lovely to chat away with her.
The same as last year we got into bed in our clothes, although I stripped down to 4 layers, buff and hat and changed my socks!!! I also got to try out my new Christmas present sleeping mat. It was very good.
I don't know why I bother with the pretence of carrying a washing bag and pyjamas across the field in my bag from the car and back again, I really don't.
It was lovely to get up early to an empty field and start frying up bacon.
The girls from my unit were up early and had the fire cleared before breakfast. (And then the others rolled out of their pod just in time to eat, they did disappear at clear up time but lucky enough I managed to save them the greasy pans because it would have been a real shame for them to miss out!)
The girls from my unit carried all my kit down to my car and swept out my pod for me too and then the others came out of hiding but luckily enough they wandered down the field just as I was starting to empty the loo bins and mop them out. I again felt it would be a dreadful shame for them to miss out, they weren't impressed!)
And then they were all gone, and I had time to stand and ponder life looking at this view.
One of the Rangers that came has had a dreadful time of it recently, in fairness she's brought a lot of it on herself but much of it is her being a victim of circumstance. For 24 hours she was the most helpful girl you could ever have on a camp, happy, pleasant company, adept at the tasks needed. For 24 hours she received nothing but praise. Hopefully it will help her see that she is packed full of good stuff and to help remember that when she goes back to inevitably being reminded of the not so good.
And that is why I drag kit out of the attic and garage in -3C, drag trolleys up muddy hills, sleep on the floor in 4 layers and then put sheets down in my house as the muddy kit is moved in for drying.
Well that and a chance to stand in a field with my friend melting marshmallows over a wood fire whilst spotting Saturn in the sky.