Thursday, 21 October 2010

Gosh, Lawks a Mercy, Great Gadzooks etc!

ANOTHER POST? So soon?! I hear the astonished gasps from afar, and respond with little more than a resounding YES!! I am posting again. So soon. It is le fact. I am unsure whether it is because so much has happened that I feel a burning desire to write it all down before I lose it in the abyss of Brian, or whether it is because I can't think of anything better to do avec le free time. Possibly a conglomeration of the two.

But a lot has happened! There have been moments of CLIMBINGCLIMBINGCLIMBING... in Carterton for FREE! At a spectacular indoor wall, with all sorts of exciting routes and overhangs (yay). Also paddling in the extreme. The extreme that I am referring to is a combination of extreme frequency, extreme distances (or at least it felt like
it at times), extreme cold, and extreme fear. And a few other extremes. It is a distinct possibility that there is some extreme exaggeration going on, but I plan to continue as I enjoy the melodrama in the EXTREME. So there. Basically, we are not particularly good at le paddling. This is less (I hope) as a result of our incompetence and more as a result of our lack of experience. I.e. until this point there has been a minimal amount of contact between A+ DisTIL members and canoes/kayaks. So we have been making up for that in the last couple of weeks. Simples. Despite currently feeling as though I no longer possess such things as arms, I have enjoyed the whole escapade, largely. It has been amazing to get out in the big outdoors in boats, and having the opportunities to just soak it all in. But for one thing: DROWNING.

If you thought that the melodrama had reached its limit with EXTREME paddling, then
you were grossly mistaken. I plan to continue to extreme lengths. I am pretty sure that I am not alone in my dislike of drowning, and therefore I don't think that it is particularly unreasonable to object to being asked to do it often. Just to clarify, by drowning I am specifically referring to being upside down in a kayak and staying upside down in the water, still in the boat to be rescued instead of popping out of the boat and sticking your head out of the water to breathe. This is what we mad creatures refer to as an Eskimo rescue. I am unsure of how it relates to Eskimos in any way, unless they have a particular fondness for being pinned into a boat upside down with your head under water. Considering the temperature of the water where they live, I sincerely hope this is not true.

For those who don't have a lot of paddling experience, I would like to explain the awesomeness of canoeing; it is a sport which involves big boats which are difficult to tip, and impossible to get trapped in. This appeals to me because it minimises the risk of drowning. The slight down side is that we are required to paddle them solo, i.e. one person per canoe, which is a bit fiddly try
ing to go in a straight line, and it is considerably more challenging if you are not blessed with the biggest muscles in the world. As my hugeness is largely inner hugeness, canoeing can be a little exhausting. However, no drowning. Kayaking, on the other hand, is death on a stick. By which I mean there is a lot of drowning involved. The only sticks involved are the paddles, and the risk of impalement on one of those is minimal. Paddlewhacking on the other hand... Anyhow, in kayaking you are sitting inside a very small hole in a very small boat, and you are attached to the boat by approximately the worst thing in the world. It is called a spraydeck, and it means that unless you kick and flail a lot (or pull the handle at the front in the rare case of not panicking), you are stuck in the boat if it flips over. Which it does. A lot.

So, in summary: canoeing = ten tons of awesome but hard work; kayaking: death on a stick.

I am glad to announce that on our kayaking trip today, only two people ended up going for a swim, and this was as a result of being considerably more courageous than the rest of us and attempting high braces. Which are not connected in any way with orthodontistry or trouser retention. In case you were unsure at this time, I was not one of those brave people. If I could figure out how, I would avoid doing braces always. I am fairly sure this will not be possible. At all.

What I have missed out thus far, is the fact that I may or may not be a qualified first aider. The reason I don't know is that the instructor wouldn't tell us whether we had passed or not. It is le grand surprise. However, I know for a fact that he definitely does not have any stray hobnobs embedded in his arms. I don't know where Thomas is.

Seeing as it is now past my bedtime, I must depart in order for to do that thing what helps me to be the opposite of the state where I am not alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic on the morrow. In real people speak: I'm going to bed.


P.S. The photos are of the spare bed wedged between two walls, and of my very best impression of a gooseberry bush. Just in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Jean-Claude, something has bumped our wall...

Hello children, it was nice to meet you, now go away.

Those of you who know things about my life might be aware that I am currently residing in the land of cows. This would be a place otherwise known as the merrie land of Oxfordshire. More specifically, in Witney. As I have discovered since I knew about the move, the only thing that people know about Witne
y is that it is home to monsieur le Prime Minister, i.e. David Cameron. However, as he is currently hanging out in Downing Street, Londinium, we have not yet had the opportunity to rave together. Once he hears that I am waiting, he will be back like a shot I am certain.

However, in the meantime, I have better things to do than to sit upon this bottom of mine and ponder about co
ws. That is, in fact, because I have such a thing as ein JOB!! It is not a job in the conventional sense of the word, as I do not, in fact, get paid, but it is le grand fun. I spend some of my time learning about the great outdoors and the things one could do in it (and also doing them), some of my time teaching kiddies about all of that guff, and some of my time pretending to fix bikes. Which entails standing close to Jonny while he fixes bikes. And occasionally touching things.

An important part of this pretend job-esque thingum what I has, is the part where I'm not working. And instead am hanging out in the house of cool, i.e. The Crawley House. It is named such because it is in the village of Crawley, not because it--or its inhabitants--move
predominantly on their hands and knees. Highlights of my time in The Crawley House thus far largely seem to involve moving furniture, or wedging myself in fridges/doorways etc.

This may be a little confusing for some (or all) of the people not living in the house with me, so I shall explain a little. Since we have moved in, we have moved the bed in my room and broken the wheels off (which we promptly fixed), we have halved the height of the bed in the spare room, which includes getting it wedged between two walls whilst hunting for an appropriate allen key, AND dropping the mattress over the banister, destroying James' beautiful paintwork. In addition, we have entirely rearranged the living room, dismantled the sofa bed and relocated it to my room, moved the other sofa into Sarah's room, moved in two new sofas which were rather too large for the very narrow hallway and door. In the process
of moving in the two new sofas, we managed to wedge Rob into a corner between walls and a sofa. In addition to all of this, there has been various rearranging of drawer units, desks etc. If the career as an outdoor instructor fails, I can always fall back on my extensive furniture removal skills.

The reference to fridges and doorways is one which most certainly needs to be addressed. In The Crawley House, there is a challenge which has been set by previous Adventure P

lus tenants. This challenge is to navigate your way from the toilet in the upstairs bathroom to the one behind the utility room downstairs, without touching the floor. In other words, to climb from one corner of the house to the other. After a couple of attempts, I am proud to announce that this challenge has been completed by myself and Sarah, with Ruth getting to a very respectable half way on her first attempt. We are very proud of ourselves. The most challenging part was navigating between the fridge and the washing machine which required a very interesting manoeuvre into the door frame, and pushing off there until balanced between toes on the washing machine and shoulders on the doorpost. We welcome suggestions for any further challenges as appropriate.

Possibly worth mentioning before skipping merrily away, is the fact that I am now a qualified fencing and archery instructor, with nationally recognised qualifications (yay!), ap
proved for belaying on climbing sessions, and working towards my canoe and kayak level 1 coaching award. Busy, busy, busy! But it's a fantastic journey and I'm loving every minute (apart from maybe the part where Ruth and Sarah got lost on the way home from Sainsburys and I had no idea where they were for three hours. Fortunately, they were rescued by a very helpful and obliging monsieur le James, who brought them back to me with all of their limbs still attached!)

Those who are familiar with the name of my boss will be very quick to understand why he is now called 'Jean-Claude' in my head. I'm not sure when exactly the change happened in my Brian, but it does seem to be irreversable. Fortunately, so far he has chuckled and has not thrown any large objects when I accidentally call him that instead of his real name. I mention this now, because I have been incredibly blessed in regards to the people with whom I work; I am surrounded by an amazing group of people with a phenomenal energy and passion for serving God, and it's REALLY EXCITING!