Tuesday, 14 December 2010

All I want for Christmas is...


Sadly this post was written in full, and ready to be posted in cyberspace when something terrible happened. Madame le computeur had a malady, and fell down a hole. Therefore all my nonsensical ramblings of yesteryear are lost into the abyss of the interwebs. I shall attempt wildly to dredge the potato waffles from the back end of Brian, but I apologise if this post is even less coherent than usual.

Blame computers, they are the main weapon of all things terrible. And involve nearly as much crying and pain and death as kayaks. Almost, but not quite.

So, where have I been? I have been Out There In Him (or OTIH for those in the inner circle). And conveniently I did not get lost, nor was I eaten by angry leprechauns, which has enabled me to come home and tell you all about my many escapades.

Let's start at the very beginning: a very good place to start. When you read you begin with A, B, C; when you sing you begin early in the morning in a minibus on your way to the mysterious region known as the 'Midlands' in some indistinct place somewhere between the North and the South. Apparently people actually live there. We took some honey, and plenty of money,
wrapped up in a five pound note. And the mystical DisTIL team 2010/11, driven onwards by our fearless leader, a certain Jean-Claude van Damme. And we also took a superfluous James, for decorative purposes.

More specifically, the Peak District was our first point of call. As the name implies, there are peaks in the Peak District. There was also approximately eight feet of snow (or six inches for those who abhor the art of exaggeration). After saying hello to Sarah's breakfast at a petrol station, we made it to the peaks, and climbed one of them in the snow and ice. It is possible that there was a substantial amount of falling over, at least on my part. When I say we climbed a peak, what I really mean is a small hill with a crag on it, which was destination unknown. After some stunning photo opportunities and more falling over, we made it to the crag, and sent Simon and a James to set up at the top while the rest of us raved at the bottom.

Our three days of amazing taught me a very important life lesson: rock climbing in ice and snow is very often the opposite of what is good. This was first observed on our first day after I left three fingers behind on a layback half way up the crag. My remaining fingers--followed by the rest of me--decided to mutiny, and took me on an adventure otherwise known as falling. I did, however, discover a far superior use of my time, and that is standing half-way up a hill on a sunny day, looking out at the awesomeness that we live in; it was unusually white.

After a bit of scrambling around on boulders (largely unsuccessfully in my case), and an incredible sunset, we made our way back to the Batmobile, and headed up to the Lake District and the House of Josh, for a yummy dinner and a rave.

The following morning we arose bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and were shocked and appauled at the sight of Larry in a towel, because none of us had gone to bed with tails. We concluded that it must be something in the water up in the Lakes.

One of the 'best bits' of Adventure Plus is the ratio of mad to sensible (17:1). In fact, one might say that as an organisation, we are well beyond the valley of the mad and into the hill country of the clinically insane. For example, when faced with 6 inches of snow, the first suggestion is to climb every mountain, search high and low. More specifically, the Old Man Coniston. Did we have krampons, I hear you ask? No, we did not. Did we have walking poles? No, we did not. We had walking boots and some approximately waterproof clothing. Did we reach the summit of the Ancient Fellow? No, we did not. We did, however, thoroughly enjoy leaping face-first into snow drifts, along with inventing a vast array of daft games and some mediocre acrobatics. Result: an incredible day, but perhaps not exactly what we had anticipated. Much as I would like to claim first place in the bum sliding competition, I may have to step down and hand it to Rob, who wiped the floor with me. Almost literally.

After another night in the House of Josh (which interesting contained 0% Josh while we were there), we headed back to the mysterious no man's land that is the Peak District, to hug some more cold, damp rock, this time without any ropes to prevent falling and death. There was no death, but there was a small amount of falling, both whilst climbing the rock and whilst walking to and from the minibus. This time I managed to retain my few remaining fingers, but left behind my left kneecap as something for the rock to remember me by when it is feeling lonely.

And then there was the ride home, and some of us leapt, and some of us slept, and we arrived home safe and sound, with most of our limbs still attached.

Highlight of the three days: watching God conduct an entire symphony in the clouds. Just being Out There In Him without any other agenda was incredible, and we also had fun and larks talking about the Father, Son and Holy Goat over, around and under the dinner table. Thanks go to Jean-Claude and my new brother, for taking us on our merrie expedition, please may we go again soon?

And on that note, it's time for me to head off and feed the cauliflowers.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010


Well we were all thinking it, I figured I may as well say it. Or in this case write it.

For those who were wondering, this post is not in reference to any particular occurrence, just a general overflowing of amazement.

Tomorrow I am going on a REAL ADVENTURE! It might even be dastardly. I am going to the Lake District with work on a trip called Out There In Him. Basically we get to play and pray at the same time, and Monsieur le Rachel is SOOOOOOOO excited! God AND nature all at once--definitely an unbeatable combination. Just add cucumber and it can't be whisked. Not even at all.

To enhance the anticipation further still, three absolutely stunning pairs of fleece salopettes are accompanying us on our travels, to store the pokemon and the cabbages that we collect along the way.


Thursday, 2 December 2010

Have you ever seen a penguin come to tea?

Take a look at me; a penguin you will see.

I am currently a penguin for a number of reasons:
1.) Despite my abhorrence of all things cold, I seem to have taken up residence in the Antarctic.
2.) I am wearing a hat with a penguin on it because even the insides of houses in the Antarctic are cold.
3.) I spent all day today pretending to be Spiderman (in Antarctica) and now there are a few body parts which don't quite appreciate me as much as they did 12 hours ago.

Which, to some extent (in my warped mind), prompts the following question: have you ever been an Intrepid Explorer? Which largely seems to involve exploring things in an intre
pid manner. For example, on Tuesday (which coincidentally was supposed to be the coldest day of the week), I was an intrepid explorer. This was not entirely by choice, but as I am a well-behaved ostrich, I did as I was told. I was told to go kayaking and canoeing. In the snow and sub-zero temperatures. Now I don't know about you, but given the choice of say, staying inside in a nice warm office, or paddling around a pond, I would generally choose the pond. When the temperature is -5, occasionally I would prefer not to be an intrepid explorer. I realise that this is an unusual choice of mine, but sadly I am not always man enough for the Great Outdoors, and I have rare moments (i.e. most days between November and February) when I would rather not get frostbite. Fortunately, we weren't asked to do any rescuing in the pond in the freezing cold, and as a result I only lost two fingers to frostbite instead of the lot. I have them in a jar by my bed if anyone is interested in paying them a visit.

Other recent excitements have included tricky trail training and a bike ride with the lovely Jonny and Josh. Tricky trail may be one of the most exciting pieces of kit we own, as it is basically a playground for bikes, and a chance to relive my childhood. It also involved taking out a wooden pole with my face for added excitement. This wasn't especially comfortable,
and as a result I may not do it again. However, it did prove one very important thing: that I was cycling with gusto and a dishwasher tablet. In the afternoon we headed out into the wilderne
ss (the other side of Witney) for a bike ride/reconnoitre which included shouting at golfers and the occasional buffalo.

And, most importantly, today we went CLIMBINGCLIMBINGCLIMBING! At Oxford Brookes climbing centre thingum. I may no longer own hands, and my legs don't seem to do what I ask them to, but it was definitely worth it. The highlight of the day might have involved crash mats and rugby tackling, but the climbing was also splendiferous, if a little frustrating at times!

And of course there have been other exploits which have not been recorded, but that does not make them any less important. I just can't remember what any of them are at present. I
'm pretty sure they involved wolves and teapots, though.

Toodleoo, I must depart to shave my gerbil.