Sunday, August 20, 2006

Summer Club 2006 Part 5

Summer Club continued with another meeting with Katie from Trees for Cities. The session began with a game, like Monopoly except the object of the game was to plant trees.

Some of the reasons people give for not having trees were identified and ways to overcome such barriers were found.
Concerns with subsidence could be alleviated with the positioning of trees further away from buildings or the planting of smaller trees with smaller roots. This was also a useful solution to concerns about blocking views and sunlight.

The positive outcomes of having trees were discussed, some of them were the following:
  • they give oxygen
  • they are a necessary parr of the life of a tree-hugger
  • they give shade and shelter
  • they provide birds and animals with homes
  • they provide us and animals with fruit and nuts
  • they provide snogging X & X sittin in a tree K.i.S.S.I.N.G
  • they are great to climb
  • they provide us with a sustainable source of fuel/paper
  • they give us conkers and helicopters
  • they are pretty
  • they are related to Ents

After the game we went out to a nearby park to record the 'before' and make suggestions for the 'after'...including types of trees and shrubs, art work and other improvements to the area.

The project will continue into next year and will include our involvement in more planning, the promotion of and the running and participation in a Tree planting festival/party.

So then came a 3 day residential...camping.

Friday we met in the morning travelled to Hainault Country park, settled in and had lunch. Then we there were introductions to the staff & an overview of the programme and a tour of the site...

Then we gathered twigs, branches and great big logs for the campfire after dinner ....

...and toasted marshmallows and sang songs ...or at least the first lines or chorus of many half-remembered songs...accompanied by Will on the guitar and various percussionists, into the early hours of the morning.

...a perfect example of a toasted marshmallow... crunchy on the outside & soft in the middle - like an armadillo but tastier.

The 'penguin experience' was also shared by Emma with the group. It did not involve the flapping black and white bird kind but the chocolatey the bird variety would not a) enjoy being dunked in a hot drink and b) fit in the mug. For the penguin connoisseurs - here is a recap of the stages: first take diagonal bites at either end of the penguin (again the live penguin might not appreciate this), then dunk and sip through it like a chocolatey penguin straw which melts the inside bit in the biscuit and then turn over and eat. I have not yet mastered this skill. I may need to attend future master classes in the 'penguin experience' and may have to arm myself with a catering size pack of penguins...

...what I will do to improve my education knows no bounds!

Saturday raining, sunny then raining and sunny, began with sharing breakfast with an infestation of wasps followed by a series of games of cards to win the privilege of being the first to plunge into the freezing cold outdoor swimming pool.

Thomas won the privilege. He was thrilled.

He took no time at all to plunge into the pool.

At one point, because of the changeable weather, Thomas ended up, in full waterproofs, his cold starting to make a comeback, watching us from the side of the pool as we were swimming and playing piggy in the middle, in a hysterical fervour, in the rain...there is something about swimming in the rain...apart from the cold and wetness...there is something upsurd about watching someone in waterproofs on dry land while you are swimming in an outdoor pool in the rain playing piggy in the middle...upsurd but strangely appealing...I don't know why.

Keeley and me followed this with blackberry picking and the spotting of the 'wasp spider' - look and gasp! Everyone else did. They were all nonchalant, yeah they went, a wasp-spider, sure...whatever - then they saw the photo on my digital camera and the looks of horror were comical . Our theory on the wasp spider (the name we gave it) was that it was tryign to entice wasps into its web by pretending to be a wasp of the opposite sex...maybe I will Google it some day when I eventually finish this post.

Then came rounders...where I found out how fit I wasn't but how amazing our young volunteers are when they organised a game after ours so that the other younger group could play and made it so that they never got bored and that when they got out went to field for the other team. We played until dark. It reminded me of when I played as a kid in Ireland...we did the same and there was a mix like we had of ages and abilities except I was they youngest instead of oldest and back then I was the one who didn't have a clue and just ran.

Thomas was 'man of the match' and got a well deserved round of applause for his single handed endeavours to keep his diminishing team still in the game. Only he and one of the younger group were left batteing for his team. He had to get her and himself round while more than a dozen others were fielding against him - he ran his guts out and against the odds got an amazing 9 (tell me if I am wrong and i will change it) rounders...and nearly threw up in ther process...such was his commitment and willingness to go on and carry his team forward. It was a joy to see.

Cooking for 25 people was a challenge at times but dealt with very well by the young people as was the clearing up and wash up after...sometimes even Emma and I helped. The soya protein and tomato surprise wrap invention of Lucy and her kitchen crew went down well and this was followed by a night walk across fields (dung-dodging) and into the forest with hot drinks and chat again until late.

Sunday, after breakfast we had a Treasure Hunt won by Sarah and Keeley's team which was followed by our Ropes Challenge across a slimey algae ridden river using ropes, wire and tyres to cross aided by encouragement and teamwork.

The first warm-up challenge was a team challenge which we completed in record time...this was followed by the Maltese cross...where the challenge was to get across from one platform to another via two diagonal ropes crossed in the middle.

Next came the tyre challenge, on which I was offered the option crawl because of the disastrously awful ability to balance and my quickness to fall, not once, twice or three times but more than I care to count. The instructor was worried that I was about to bounce off the tyres and smack my head on the bank of the river. I was just worried that if I fell the wrong way I could get stuck in a tyre and have to be forced out of it in some unflattering way that involved St John's Ambulance and lots of vaseline on surgical gloves.

There were ways we should have crossed parts of the rope course which Jim always seemed to manage to accomplish, being part spider, but sometimes it was just a matter of finding any way that it was possible to cross without falling in to the pea-soup carpet.

Sarah shows here the correct way to cross the second tyre challenge while I show the incorrect, but only possible way for me to have crossed it without ending up in the soup. This involved the throwing of my body in the vague direction of a tyre and flailing in an attempt at grabbing the rope at the same time, then desperately wrapping my legs aroung the tyre to position myself astride it to sit and have a long rest before I went on to the next one and start all over again while the strength slowly went from my arms creating an expanding painful Popeye effect in my fore arms, a racing heart and ragged lungs and on top of all that 'Elvis leg' in both short -it hurt and I was rubbish but got there eventually.

We encouraged, coaxed, cheered and supported each other. There were even times when singing a song was the necessary ingredient. Craig got our best rendition of 'Show me the way to Amarillo' as well as 'Don't stop me now'...he got there in the end.

Emma, however, ended up in the soup...I will add afer a valiant effort both directions on the crossing and hung on til the end...and did manage to keep her hair dry... and to smile all the way!

After lunch and a shower, tent down, packed - we had one last penguin hot drink and said our goodbyes before heading home.

Thanks Lucy and Will...

(I know I have left stuff out and would be glad of any reminders...and will update asap...and probably should have written this better but its so long that if I continued I might begin to lose the will to sorry about the ramble...I suppose I could just have said - it was great and the young people were great and the weather didn't stop us!)

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At 24/8/06 12:23 am, Blogger Thomas said...

I started reading this post from the marshmallows bit and worked my way down to the bottom and over the top again!

But i really enjoyed it!

P.S i got 11 runs lol!

At 24/8/06 10:23 pm, Blogger Sarah said...

i really enyoyed reading this post.. not 2 sure about looking at that picture of the wasp spider! still scares me!

the penguin thing can be easier if both ends r bit off completely, just means less to eat once the inside is melted

At 25/8/06 9:01 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry we missed the camping experience but we were thinking of you from "sunny" Devon, as the thunder and lightning thrashed around us!! P.S. Rosie, my baby, survived adventure camp unscathed which is more than can be said for her pining mother!! Love Wendy xx

At 26/8/06 1:02 pm, Blogger Mr. Irish said...

Thanks very much for the comment, it was much appreciated! Best of luck with your blog, it looks like you are having fun with your's too. I like the tree monopoly idea.

At 28/8/06 12:25 am, Blogger Sandra White said...

phentermine - health insurance - debt consolidation - home equity loans Nice comment.. I ll come back for sure :]


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