Sunday, 21 August 2011

Mr Mistoffelees, I am away with the fairies.

Unsurprisingly, my title statement is only true in part. Sorry. Mr Mistoffelees is not actually a significant figure in my life, but may become one at some point in the near future...sort of...more to follow in a minute. BUT I have been away with the fairies. That is, if you count A+ staff and volunteers as fairies. Which I do.

Since my last post everything has happened at it has happened magnificently. Although more fun and larks are lurking on the horizon, i.e. tomorrow.

Exciting happening numero uno: TA Witney 2011
This was called TA Witney 2011 because it was a Total Adventure holiday (hence the TA part), it happened in Carterton (hence the Witney part), and it happened in 2011 (hence the 2011 part).

We had a truly spiffing week including highlights such as: talking about the differences between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church with 12-year-olds, spitting on Steve, making lots of mess with paint and clay and plaster, Charles and Grace's cooking and having 11 cake ingredients massaged into my scalp. No mooses were harmed in the making of this film. I spent the week with a splendiferous group of year 7 girls and we were by far the best TAG team. For those who don't know, TAG stands for Talk About God. And that is what we did. And we watched a video which was great and it can be found here.

Summer adventures part deux: TA Summit 2011
This was called TA Summit 2011 because it was a Total Adventure holiday (hence the TA part), it happened at the Summit Centre near Merthyr Tydfil (hence the Summit part), and it happened in 2011 (hence the 2011 part).

Another incredible week of Adventure Plus madness, and this time in Wales. I had the chance to go kayaking three times, walk up some beautiful hills dressed as the sun/half of a giraffe, eat more of Charles and Grace's incredible food and talk about God some more. And THIS time, I watched cake ingredients being smeared over other peoples' heads. Lovely. And Ugo shared lots of videos with us, but this was my favourite; he talked about how our father God will help us to finish the race even if he has to carry us to the end.



Here is a picture of me climbing.

Escapade number four: Mattress surfing
Houston, I think we have a problem. This was a bad idea the night before an expedition. Otherwise, it comes highly recommended by the best sources: ME! Lots of fun, just don't ask Jonny to push you. And when in doubt, JUST SAY NO. At least that way you will still have all of your limbs the following day.

It's the final countdown: BELA Expedition
To Tintern we go, once again! We loved it so much the first time, we went back again. This time we took some honey and plenty of money, wrapped up in a Robert. Three days of sun and fun and a little bit of ouch: it was superb, thank you for asking. And then we were done and that was even better. And then we came home and had showers and that was the best of all.

Back to the future: TA Stoke Fleming 2011
GUESS WHAT?! I'm going on yet ANOTHER adventure and the toilet paper leaves tomorrow! Toilet paper is an affectionate term for the minibus that has never been used before and will never be used again. Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside and all that fine classical opera. Oh Adventure Plus, you do spoil me, what can I do to show my appreciation? And preferably something other than tidying the barn, but I'd do it for you if you were to ask it of me. That's how much I love you.

And what of that famous musical cat, I hear you ask? Well, not very much really, except for a tragedy that has befallen The Crawley House. We have a MOUSE. Yes, the filthy little vermin has been spotted on more than one occasion, to the point of giving me nightmares about rats the size of cats and half-dead pigeons. The mouse is in the house and he is NOT welcome. It was nice to meet you, now GO AWAY.

So, we're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of seaside. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

We might not be the best at spelling, but we are the best at HAVING FUN!

I have a friend. Surprising, I know but it's true. I'm not sure whether she knows it yet, but by the time she has read this post she will be put right. Her name is Jayne. In fact, she has featured on this blog several times before. She is the ex-housemate of mine that is not a vegetable.

Anyway. Jayne. That is 'Jane,' with a 'y.' If I asked you to come up with a spelling for 'Jane' with a 'y,' what would you come up with? I think that 'Jayne' would be a fairly logical conclusion. Amongst the ranks of the Adventure Plus staff, this is not so. Apparently the likely answer is 'Yajne'. And whilst this is a very interesting name, it is not the right one. However, to avoid embarrassing anyone, we will henceforth refer to Jayne as 'Yajne'. Please remember that the 'j' in the middle is silent.

So, Yajne. She's pretty awesome, by the way, just in case you were unsure. Or haven't met her.

She came to visit me! It was a while ago now, so it might be a stretch for her to remember, but she definitely enjoyed it. And as a result agreed--on camera, no less--that a gap year with Adventure Plus was definitely the right step for her future. If you're reading this, Yajne, we're still awaiting your application and places are going fast (we have, of course, reserved you one, but you might want to get onto that fairly soon).

Yajne's visit went a little like this: climbing, climbing, hiking, climbing. Some of my more intelligent readers will notice the theme here; for those not so blessed in the Brian department, I will fill in the blanks for you: we did quite a bit of climbing.

The first part of our climbing adventure took place at Oxford's one and only Brookes climbing wall thingy. Lovely. We had a great time and were ready for phase two: REAL ROCK! We went to World's End and saw another realm. Or something like that. Some of us were forced to leave early due to the demands of work (also known as 'fun') but we all joined ranks for a grand party on the beach late into the night. It is possible that there was a fairly large quantity of death and crisis involved in our leisurely stroll along the seafront in the evening. Gale force winds and a perillously narrow wall to balance on ended in most of us passing on to the next world. Perhaps a little appropriate given the location of our climbing exploits earlier in the day.

The following morning, having recovered from the beauteous ordeal of the night before, we got up bright and early and strode off into the sunset. Sort of. We went for a walk. There were mountains, there was bog, there were biscuits. And a couple of fondant straws. We had a splendiferous time in the sunshine, entirely unspoilt by peril of any kind. The wings were not on fire and no one drowned in stagnant mud.

Followed by...FIRE! And we sang songs about vegetables. Definitely a good end to a good day.

Guess what we did the following day...climbing? YES! And then we lost Ruth. And then we found Ruth. Evening came, and morning, and that was the fourth day. Sadly, this was the point in our lives at which Yajne had to leave us. Not forever, you understand, but for a time. Long enough that we might miss each other before we were reunited, but not long enough that we would forget the beautiful time that we had shared. There was much sorrow, and some weeping, but life is full of disappointments, and the show must go on.


That is the noise a train makes. I visited some trains. On a BELA 'expedition'. I use the term 'expedition' a little loosely here, because although there was some walking, there was very little bag-carrying and there were tea rooms. And a playground. We ate decomposing vegetables and wrote ridiculous poetry and didn't get lost. Or eaten by wolves.

Since then? I'm not sure, really. I know I've been to the big Yorkie Bar in the sky, and played on an amazing playground with some amazing people. I've also been to Blackpool, and wasn't terribly impressed. And when I say not terribly impressed, what I actually mean is: I hope I never have to go back. I'm sure there are lots of lovely parts of the city, what I saw was not lovely. It wasn't the worst thing ever, but it was the second worst.

Yesterday, I went to a youth work conference organised by the Diocese of Oxford. It was called 'Mend the Gap' and had nothing whatsoever to do with trains. I learnt a lot of marvellous things, met a lot of lovely vicary-type people, and ate some sandwiches. One thing I was not impressed with: one of the speakers told me I was old. Apparently I am no longer one of 'the youth'. Bother. The implication is that I might have to grow up at some point in the not-too-distant future. I plan to ignore it and be as silly as I can for as long as I can. After all, I'm allowed a little senility if I'm so old?

And what else? I'm not sure I have a clue. And I don't know that I really have the inclination to tell you very much more anyway. I'm off to think about going to bed. And after that I will think about getting ready for bed. And then I will get ready for bed. And then I might actually go to bed. Unlikely, but possible. First, I will lick the door handle.

P.S. I tried to include pictures but the world broke. Sorry.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Once Upon A December...

Once upon a time, on a fine day in the month of April (which could have just as easily been December, except for the fact that it wasn't), a group/gang/gaggle of intrepid explorers headed of into the murky waters of the Thames somewhere near Witney. More precisely, they were upon the Thames, in canoes. I was one of them. After 127 miles, a LOT of sugar and wearing out 5 of the menfolk, I arrived in Westminster with all of my limbs still attached. I am still in shock.

For those who have been clamouring for a blog post since January, I'm sure you will be glad to read my second rambling of the month, with any luck this one will be marginally more informative than the last. With some luck, it may also make more sense. Having abandoned ship and wrestled this post into my knickers in order to go to bed, I may have ceased writing at this point.

After all, tomorrow is another day, and thus I have returned to slave over a hot stove (computer) and produce a work of literary genius. Otherwise known as nonsense.

It has come to my attention that generally when I re-read those things what I has written (honest, guv'), I don't understand them. Perhaps that will be an encouragement to those of my readers who also don't understand. Almost certainly, there is no point to the things I am saying. To which I proclaim from the rooftops: all the more reason to keep writing.

Witney to Westminster, you say? Yes, it was marvellous. I died 37 times over the course of 6 days, but was revived sufficiently each time to keep paddling. I believe I have now adopted the new sport of 'sleep canoeing' which largely constitutes imaginary canoeing while you sleep. Which is probably at least as successful as imaginary canoeing whilst awake. I can't be certain, however, not having any memory of my excursions once I have woken up.

I am PROUD to announce that during our excursion I was one of a small group spreading joy among the masses through the power of art. Musical art, to be more specific. At some point I will add a moving video to illustrate the bare and honest beauty of the musical talents of an illustrious member of our team. You will be pleased to know that walking over three miles in wetsuit boots, to the point of blisters on the soles of my feet was a small price to pay that our company not be deprived of glorious fanfares on their day of victory. Paddling under Westminster Bridge would not have been the same without our musical accompaniment. And again I say: God Save The Queen. And Happy Birthday, Ruth.

Since then, things have happened.

One of these this might just have been Total Adventure Easter 2011. It is called Total Adventure Easter 2011 because it is totally adventurous and because it took place over Easter 2011. That might be a little misleading, because we were not, actually, being totally adventurous on Easter Sunday. In fact it was the Monday-Thursday prior to Easter. BUT still during the school Easter holidays. And that's good enough for me.

As the name implies, we had some adventures. Including a canoeing expedition (like a slice of cucumber after W2W), a bike ride, and an afternoon of walloping ourselves in the ear with little balls on strings. Due to there being only 6 participants for the week (well, 4 days), I PLAYED! I love playing. We carried eggs around in our hats and put Steve in a dress (not the first time, but he still looked just as dapper).

As I am related to the Williamson clan, I am required to include the BEST BIT. Which actually was astonishingly predictable, with the Big G coming in first by a sizeable margin. God was definitely faithful over the course of the week (yes, I know, only 4 days), and taught us some amazing things, about patience, harvesting and making war. Not quite all at the same time, but intertwined in a very clever fashion. Three cheers for the creator of the universe! Hear, hear! (And here).

And then there was a train and a ferry and a comfy bed, and the beach. Otherwise known as 'The Island'. Which sounds pretty ominous, but actually isn't. And the sun shone, and we remembered Jesus' death and resurrection (a.k.a. the most awesome thing that has happened EVER), and ate steak and lettuce by the sea.

I feel obliged to fill my readers in on all of the occurrences from beyond the beginning of time until the most distant point in the future that we can conceive. And because I don't like being told what to do, especially by myself, I shan't. Which means: sorry folks, you'll never know what I did between January and April this year, because I am more interested in my pillow and the leprechaun that just leapt out of my wardrobe.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone? To LONDON, to visit the Queen!

Oops. I may be the most disgraceful can of earwigs this side of my left elbow. It turns out I haven't embraced the power and might of the Eternal Bloginator since JANUARY! I.e. a million years ago. Before I reached old age, in fact.

Since then, I have reached old age. I am past it, have lost my marbles and can no longer dress myself. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have now reached the grand old age of 22.

In other news, many things have happened.

And soon, many more things will happen.

For example, it is now only THREE DAYS until I gird my loins once and for all, and take on the appearance of an overweight gerbil. I will set forth into the unknown and will henceforth always be known as Archibald the Great. For those of you who are down with the kids, or at least somewhat resembling something sane, you will realise that this is a lie.

I am going to canoe to LONDON!! From WITNEY!! In case you were unsure, that is a LONG way. 127 miles, to be precise. It is possible that I will be wearing unusual clothing for some/most/all of the journey (although probably not a gerbil outfit, sadly, owing to the fact that I don't actually have one). And you can see the photographs here; they will be updated as we paddle.

I am going to be raising as much money as is humanly possible (because the bit about the gerbil was entirely untrue), and if you haven't already sponsored me then you can do that here! If you have, then I am forever in your debt, and I will repay you in whichever way you deem most appropriate. (Withstanding anything to do with baked beans or raw tomato. Or public humiliation. Probably.)

And seeing as half of my ear has just been permanently removed by my boss, a Monsieur Jean Valjean, I must depart and so some real work. Or something that convincingly resembles it.

Pip pip!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Have you ever suffered from Email Apnea?

No, neither have I.

It is I who stole aunty's tarts.

Hello again, folks! It is after Christmas! Which means only 11 months until next Christmas! It turns out that I have returned to the land of the oxen, despite a savage attack from a lone sea snail. Needless to say, I was victorious, and the snail has returned to the bathroom, thoroughly cowed by the experience.

But something must be said about my dramatic escape from this malevolent county. It was exciting, dramatic, and a little unusual. My penguin feet came in handy on several occasions, not least to provide entertainment when all else went to Tupperware. On the eighteenth day of the twelfth month of the year, I had planned to return to my home in the north (or south for those who prefer to be geographically accurate), but ALAS and FORSOOTH and FULSAW! This was not to be! Quel drame! Oimoi hoi polloi! And other such sentiments.

More white stuff fell from the sky that morning than had ever fallen before. Ever. Except for those other times. So. Much. White. Stuff. For those not in the know, I am talking about the cold, wet, snowy kind of white stuff, not the overpriced high street shop. Which is where I purchased my swimming costume, for anyone who is interested. Which fortunately is now the right size, thanks to some very handy alterations by the infamous Ruth the Shrubber.

So, back to my tail, and my tale. The mutti arrived at an obnoxious hour of the clock, i.e. 10am, and we set off into the blizzard, taking our very lives into our hands. We nearly died fewer than fourteen times, but nevertheless was extremely dangerous and even dastardly, perhaps! Upon reaching the town of the Ox, we were forced to sit in a traffic jam for three million years. At which point we decided to abandon ship, and swam to shore (drove back to Crawley). The drive back was even more perilous, but we managed to commandeer the very last loaf of bread from a petrol station on our way, and made it back in two pieces.

At this point I traipsed up the wooden hill, also known as the hill that is not made of wood in any shape or form, and rode back down it on a kayak. And various other sledge-related entities. Before heading back to the house of DOOM for tea with mutti. And then bed.

The following day we hoisted our knickers up to record heights, and went on our way, without death of any sort, but still surrounded by white, arriving back in the 'ford just in time for lunch with the fam.

Other adventures over the Christmas period include living in a nest made from duvets, getting the flu, having a HOT SHOWER (!!!) and eating my body weight in pig. I was
also encouraged by the discovery that many of the strange, semi-Belgian clan which I claim to be a part of also suffer with that well-known medical condition, Squarefoot. Despite being half the size of the majority, I am not alone in my distress, and was delighted to hear that other people out there are in the same aeroplane. It is remotely possible that we also discussed topics of some serious importance, but unlikely. In any case, I have blocked all such experiences from my memory, due to their being unfit for human consumption: we are bored of such things.

Since my return to the 'shire, few things have happened to cause serious distress, but I have thoroughly enjoyed CLIMBING both yesterday and today, and I have not enjoyed drowning whilst attached to a kayak. My thanks go out to Josh and James for their extensive efforts to prevent my drowning, which paused and thought for a moment about being successful, but then changed their minds. Maybe next time.

I am also pleased to announce that the RUGMEISTER has reappeared. That is, I have been playing rugby, not anything peculiar involving small carpets. She has also extended her influence to indoctrinate another member of her household, and the fearsome Ruth is going to have a go at the beautiful game on the morrow. I will let you know how many body parts she has still in tact after the game. Despite my best efforts at eating anything and everything that I can find, it seems that I have been sent back to my sad and lonely hole on the wing, due to having lost a large rock in weight since last playing, and being considerably smaller than half of many of the other players on the team. However, it does not end here. I would be honoured to once again play the role of fatty on the pitch (and fatty always needs a friend if anyone is interested?), and will be doing everything in my power to make it happen. Well, almost anything.

I even have some news about the big G. You
might know, you might not, that God seems to back me up pretty frequently. Often this is due to my being somewhat on the PANTS side of things. But I have to say, I am very grateful, and was astounded when leading a Bible study about Jesus and beer, that the discussion lasted for somewhere in the realm of two and a half hours. I learnt an enormous amount from my compatriots, and hope that they benefited too. Now onto the next one, as I prepare for my journey to somewhere a little warmer and a little older to hang out with Abraham. I have two weeks, and would greatly appreciate any information about his whereabouts, as our map collection is sadly lacking in that area.

But for now I must bid you adieu, and hurry off to wedgie my walrus.