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Monday, 22 June 2015

Martin Sweeney's day off

So a day off in the middle of summer can only mean one thing right? A Ferrari-propelled adventure into the bright lights of downtown Chepstow!

Unfortunately not.

My first free day in 2 weeks turns out to be an admin day, catching up on reports from Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, course material for Borderlands First Aid courses and watching the tidying-up fairy clearing away the mountain of kit that seems to have invaded the living room over the past week or so! It's certainly been a busy couple of weeks around here.

Caving In

My nocturnal activities continued with a couple of trips down Eglwys Faen, a compact but interesting cave on Llangattock Mountain in South Wales. I'd never been into this popular group cave before, but managed to squeeze in (no pun intended) a couple of trips over the course of a few short days. Exploring 'The Warren' in the upper series turned out to involve an inordinate amount of squeezing and scurrying, but we found time to reach the far reaches of the cave, finding 2 active digging sites. The vintage pit-props at one end didn't inspire much confidence, so we made a careful retreat.

The second visit took in the lower sections of the cave. We reached the sump in the eastern series but, not having the time to pump the water out of the flooded channel, we didn't push on further. The entrance to the western chamber, with it's ancient and very nicely written graffiti dating back to the 16th century was an unusual element to the cave, and points to its history as a secret chapel (the name means 'Stone Church').

DofE Journeying

My role as a Duke of Edinburgh expedition assessor took me to the Chilterns and Exmoor recently. It was nice to see some of the teams growing in confidence over the course of their bronze overnight expeditions, and despite the natural beauty of the Wye Valley, it's good to have a change of scenery every now and again!

Full marks for effort have to go to one of the boys in the Chilterns who finished the first day with a very sore hip, woke the next day in great pain but still managed to plough on through the second day. He demonstrated the very best of what DofE is supposed to be about; character, commitment and teamwork. Unfortunately a couple of the participants on the Exmoor weekend had a somewhat different approach. Having been forced to do what is supposed to be a voluntary award, one lad in particular made no secret of his disdain for the effort required, and seemed to think that he and he alone knew what was best. It's very sad when you have to constantly correct poor behaviour, even more so in a young adult.

Outdoor First Aid

Mid June found me delivering an ITC Outdoor First Aid course at Viney Hill. An eclectic group of candidates, from a forest school teacher to outdoor instructors and a couple preparing for an overseas adventure all worked hard over the course of the two days with a successful outcome for everyone. 

I love the fact that the group were so enthusiastic, throwing themselves into every aspect of the course, including wound simulations. Top marks to one candidate for some of the bloodiest make up on the course!

Following on from the course I've been busy making a few tweaks to presentations and investing in more training resources. 

Looking forward to the next course on 21-22 September now!

Only 2 more days off now until I head out to Tanzania for a month, taking a school group away for True Adventure (although that doesn't sound quite as soon if I say it's in 3 weeks' time!)

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