May Write Ups
CAVING - Ann Cook
Eight of us met in a cafe in Hope, Derbyshire after a very early start. A cooked breakfast to keep us going through the day was consumed before Adam our instructor and guide for the day turned up and then it was off to Castleton. Oh dear, my worst fear was realized when he said he was taking us down "The Devil's Arse", wasn't this flooded last week?! But we need not have worried the floods had subsided very quickly and Adam did an excellent job of guiding us safely around and giving us lots of interesting information about caves and caving. Now I could leave my report at that but the truth is there was a lot more to our trip than that. It was tiring just getting all the protective gear on, finding a pair of wellies that were not for two left feet, finding belts that would go around a few large tums and fitting all our warm layers into the very rigid long legged protective suits. All kitted out and waddling along like penguins we entered the cave to find it very damp and slippery with silt. We slipped and slid along, ducked and waded through crutch high water and oh boy did we have a fun time! I would recommend this trip to anyone; we were well looked after, jokes and laughter were the order of the day and we all came out smiling if somewhat covered in mud. Thanks Jane for organising this event.
SEGWAY (1) - Pamela and Allan Bailey
Pam and I haven't been on a 50+ event for some time and we were so lucky after the wet weather we have had to find ourselves with ten other members on such a lovely sunny Sunday morning riding Segways at the Segway Experience, Willows Nursery near Mawsley. Our hosts were Anne and her ten year old daughter Rachel. Rachel demonstrated how easy it was and Anne took us through the training session. Once you get the hang of it they are deceptively easy to ride, travelling at up to 15mph. The course was mown tracks through wild grass land. We were divided into two groups of six. When it was our turn to sit out it was quite surreal watching people drifting through long grass like moving statues with no signs of movement. It was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours and I recommend anyone who hasn't tried it to have a go.
SEGWAY (2) - Liz Betts
Well..... what a brilliant initiation to the Northants 50+ Adventure club! Had I known about this club when it started in 1999 - the year in which I was 50 - I could, by now, have had 12 years of fun and adventure with a great bunch of people. To make matters even worse, I intended to join two years ago when Jenny Walker first told me about it; but I procrastinated. More fool me! However, I may have missed out on the past twelve years but, on Friday 4 May, whilst playing table tennis with Pauline Ashby I mentioned my intention to join the group, and she told me she had been a member since 2000. She encouraged me to go to the Toby Inn on Tuesday 8 May to meet some of the group for a drink. She also told me she still had some places left for Segway on 12 May. I'd only recently heard of Segway.... and I didn't need persuading. That Friday, I told Pauline that I'd like to go, and I posted my joining and membership fee the same night. On the Tuesday Pauline gave me the Segway details, and here I am - member number 478. Hello everyone!! I have just returned from a great morning of Segwaying. After weeks of torrential rain, we were fortunate that today was a beautiful sunny day.... though the ground was still quite soft and muddy in places - and it wasn't long before the mud claimed its first victim(s). Marilyn, "the Essex Girls" (Sharon and Tracy), and Jude, all took a tumble in the mud, glorious mud. When I arrived at Segway Northants (at Willows Nursery, Mawsley) I didn't know anyone, but I soon had 8 new friends. The proprietors, Anne and Les, and their daughter Rachel (aged 10), were wonderful. Rachel demonstrated as Anne and Les trained us in the safe operation of the Segway. Then Rachel, her job over, was sent off to do her homework. Les went off to potter around the nursery, and Anne took the first 5 of us Segwaying around the site. The other 4 sat in the sun drinking tea and coffee until it was their turn to have a go. Once we'd all had an initial 35 minutes or so induction, under Anne's close supervision, we were let loose to take it in turns whizzing around the site. What fun we had. It was brilliant, and I can't wait for my next adventure with more of you!! P.S. I now know what I can get my "30 something" kids for Christmas....
FOREST OF DEAN WEEKEND
ABSEILING in the Forest of Dean - Hilary Hearnshaw
"That's really good. You are doing amazingly well! Let gravity take you where it wants." These were some of the encouraging phrases which Chris, our instructor, used. They helped to make sure every one of us abseiled successfully from the top to bottom of 30 meters of rough, indented, uneven rock face. We all heard him say this as we were on the ropes, and totally believed him. We also all heard him while we were waiting before or after our turn, so we knew that mostly it was just not true! The route was on the steep hillside at Symonds Yat, with a view which most of us only saw as we went over the edge. A minute or so later, because of the contours, many found we dangled freely, gently spinning in mid-air. "No problem, enjoy the view up the valley" was Chris' friendly advice. The guidance and encouragement from Chris, and the welcome at the bottom from young Tom, meant we all ended up smiling after the abseil, even those on their first attempt. The much more tricky part was to walk back to the top through the woods, on extremely slippery, very muddy, rocky and wooded slopes. That return walk, in fact, deterred some from achieving a second abseil. Nevertheless, it was a great success all round and it felt very adventurous.
ORIENTEERING in the Forest of Dean - Hilary Connon
It was decided we would start at 9 am today, so all set off after a hearty breakfast. Unfortunately my map reading is pathetic and we nearly ended up on the road to Ross on Wye. A great cheer went up when Dave and I finally arrived at the car park opposite the visitor centre! Hurriedly slipping on more and more layers at the cold started to be felt, we tried to concentrate on Alyn's explanation of a topographic orienteering map. It looked really complicated. Our first test was to find the start, however several ladies (including me) decided to locate the toilets instead as the cold air took effect. Our second test was to split into two groups and find a marker with assistance from Alyn and his wife. Then we were on our own - our two groups were split into three groups of four and each group was given 3 locations to find and a clue sheet on which to write the combination found on the marker post. Orienteering in a deciduous forest is very different to the cushy strolls we were used to in country parks. Sometimes even if you knew you were in the right area from the map it could be quite challenging to find the post. The first path was a 25 degree slither in slippery mud and some "paths" were overgrown or had been chewed up by forest activities. There was a little clambering around the hazardous forest floor which rose and fell and kept your heart beating with the exertion, so those layers went on and off with regularity. It was a brilliant but muddy event. The trees were beautiful and we walked through carpets of bluebells to the sound of cuckoos and woodpeckers. Since our team got back first (even though we spent ages trying to find one marker in the middle of nowhere) we happily went out again and got a 4th marker. I think Les's team went for even more. It was a thoroughly enjoyable activity and many thanks to Carol and the Yeehah team for organising it.
BRIDGE BUILDING in the Forest of Dean - Paul Rogers
On Saturday morning the weather DRY - well just about; we made our way to Symonds Yat. We were split into two groups, our team to have the challenge of building a Tyrolean Bridge across a gorge, well a stream. A Tyrolean Bridge is made up of ropes one above head height for the hands to hold and the other lower for the feet. Alyn our instructor and his two young girls Megan 10 and Molly 11 assisted us. The first challenge was for half the team to cross the gorge, via a log without falling in, which was achieved by all! We then proceeded to learn how to tie the rope around a tree each side of the gorge using the correct knots and tension. The next learning curve was to put on the safety harness and attach this to the safety line onto the top rope. THEN came the test would it HOLD US?! After a demonstration by Megan, one by one with bated breath and caution we crossed it. Yeehaa ! A brilliant morning enjoyed by all. Thanks to Carol for a perfect weekend.
OUT OF COUNTY WALK - Barry Knott
After pulling pints at Stanion Village Hall for the club for quite some time now, it is true what they say - if you can,t beat 'em, join 'em. What a great first event for me this was. We arrived in Derbyshire and the weather was not only warm but the greetings I received were as well. With the risk assessment complete we ventured off down the Tissington Trail a little way before wending our way off into the fields. The 8 miles that were promised ended up more like 10! But - the scenery and company were certainly worth it. Trying to find a shady nook for our picnic lunch was impossible, but there was a welcome breeze. A short time after our lunch stop, we came across a super village pub where we all admired the village green with a pint in hand. Only one incident occurred and that was Maggie who hurt her finger, but was soon first-aided by Richard (our new "Health and Safety Officer"). My concern was when the map came out and heads were scratched. Then Dennis produced a compass and I really began to wonder what sort of club I had joined!! (Ed's note: at least we had a compass and someone who knew how to use it!) Thanks to Ann and Jane for organising this walk and here's to the next "adventure".
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