This ones late. I know – I blame two things. The Bank holiday weekend throwing me, and the fact that my activities over the Bank Holiday weekend left me completely knackered. So as a bonus will include two Mondays in this post (not just because it flows better as a narrative. Honest!).
Monday was a fairly bog standard day. I was on the late shift at work so got a bit of a lie-in, then headed home and straight out to the gym, ran 5k, called in at Asda to restock the fridge, and then called in at my parents on my way home.
Tuesday was another fun day of lates in the office with nothing especially exciting going on. After work I was supposed to have been going out to the cinema but this fell through so I headed home and had a good night’s rest instead just watching a bit of TV and chilling.
Wednesday was another day on the lates with nothing much going on – still I was able to get a lot of calls closed – pushing the 115 mark for the month around this point. After work I headed home, and then straight out again to the gym, before calling in on my parents again to see my Gran who was visiting. I hung around there for a bit and headed back home and off to bed.
Thursday was a shockingly early start given the previous three days of late shifts. I had to get the car over to a local town for it to get a service before having an MOT on Friday, and then get the train into the office. This meant leaving about 6:50 in the morning, to drop the car, walk to the station and get the train. I ended up on the same train as Shaun and we had a good journey in with him fortunately knowing the way to the office preventing me from getting lost. It was then a another standard day, till 4 when Matt kindly drove me back to the garage to get my car – going through some of the country lanes giving a lovely look at the surrounding countryside. With the car successfully retrieved it was back to Maidstone for a bit of dinner (we all ended up in Wetherspoons as there were a couple of nights out going on too) and then off to Ceroc. Wetherspoons provided much entertainment when a chap called Paul came along – at dinner the previous week we had been joking about how he was my evil twin brother, sitting at the pub we had people asking if he was my brother. All good fun.
After dinner we headed off to Ceroc which was a really good evening – we learnt a couple more of the harder moves and then had a good dance – Paul who’d come along too also seemed to really enjoy himself so a good night was had by all. Then it was off home to make a half-hearted attempt at packing and then bed.
Friday was the first day of what turned into a very hectic Bank Holiday weekend. I got up early, got packed and then drove over to my parents to pick up my Dad. He was taking my car to have it’s MOT done, and helping me get to the station at the same time. I drove to the station, arriving in good time so was able to get a coffee and hop onto my train to London to get to Swindon. I arrived there early and managed to get a taxi to the Adventure Centre where I was volunteering as for the Victa Family weekend. (I’ll be writing more about this later but as a brief reminder VICTA is a charity that works with visually impaired children and their families). I met up with Phil (who I’d not seen in ages), and some of the other volunteers, we had some lunch and had a meeting to give a bit more information about what we were going to be doing over the weekend, and other useful tips. This included a really useful session in how to lead visually impaired (VI) people. Then it was back to the main reception to meet the families as they arrived and checked in. Dinner was taken in shifts, and after dinner we had a meeting of everyone to separate the kids into their groups, allowing the group leaders (myself included) to meet the kids and the kids/parents to meet us, the weekend was Camelot themed, so we made cardboard swords and crowns too – naturally this was all done making a big mess as well. After the activity the volunteers drifted over to the adult bar (there were two bars – a family bar for everyone, and an adult bar where those older than 18 could hide in the evenings) and got into a friendly game of poker (though I think I used up a bit too much luck winning this considering how the other games over the weekend went). I eventually stumbled my way to bed around 1:30 in the morning, and had to set the Alarm for 7.
Saturday was our first full day of activities. We got up early, had a bit of breakfast – bacon sarnies, much needed! – and headed down to meet our group. Once we’d got everyone together (the parents had to sign all the kids in and out of the group at the start and end of each activity setting) we headed off with an extra staff member for the centre – the one who knew what they were doing) to our first activity – an obstacle course. After the kids had been shown what they needed to do on each activity we worked out way around in three groups, with everyone getting a chance to have a go on everything at least once. Then it was back to the main centre, singing silly songs as we went to meet a new instructor to go climbing – some of the kids really loved this one racing to the top of the wall to ring the bell at the top, all the kids gave it a good attempt (and a couple may have had a sneaky hand from the instructors pulling them up a bit too…). Climbing done it was back to the main centre to sign out the kids for a bit of lunch. This was a nice time to catch up with the other volunteers, to see how their sessions had been and to get a sneak peak of what we had ahead of ourselves. After lunch we met up with our kids again, and headed off to go Abseiling. – the kids found this a bit scarier than the climbing, the tower did seem a bit one – though we had a couple of kids who really really loved it – especially a little 6 year who giggled the whole way down. The other kids got together and we ended up having a good game of tag on the grass away from the tower. When the abseiling finished we moved onto something called Aeroball – this was really great fun, think Basketball on trampolines. The court was 4 trampolines, divided by soft walls, and behind each trampoline were two holes, connected by a chute. The idea is simple – you thrown a ball through the top hole, and if it comes out the bottom you score. In practice it’s fantastic fun to play and a lot harder than it looks. As it could only take 4 kids at a time, the rest of us were running around the field doing piggy back races, playing tag, and generally wearing out the poor volunteers. After the games, we headed back to the main building, gave the kids back to their parents and settled down to some pasta for dinner. After dinner the centre staff had organised a wide game so myself and couple of other volunteers went along and joined in – this was for all the families so it was nice to get to interact with some of our group members, and to meet the rest of their families at the same time. This ended up in a draw (with the Dads getting very competitive), and it was back inside and off to the adult bar for poker night. Unfortunately this didn’t go nearly as well for me – I was the first one out, still this left me to enjoy the company of the others a bit more – I even got playing pool with one of the VI over 18s, she did embarrassingly better than me leaving me looking stupid and dead impressed at the same time! Eventually the bar threw us out and it was off to bed that I went.
Sunday was another early start (we had to be up at 7:30 if we wanted any breakfast!!). We had a bit of breakfast and then headed out to meet out groups. Our first activity of the day was the Zip wire which I almost got out of going on – until the instructor noticed I hadn’t been and the kids decided I should go – I made as much noise as I could when I came down but it was great fun. After the Zip wire we moved onto Archery which was interesting but hard – the kids had to stay in a shed for safety so we were kept constantly on our toes keeping an eye on them. At the end myself and other volunteer were allowed a go which we turned into a mini competition – not that I did well again either. Archery done, we headed back to give the kids back to their parents and have a bit of lunch, before meeting the kids again. That afternoon we did an activity called Survivor – building a shelter in a wood and lighting a fire. I found this very interesting but it may have been a pitched a bit above the kids, though they enjoyed making a shelter with a tarpaulin, and we did have some fun trying to light a small fire using a flint and steel. After Survivor our last session of the day were some initiative exercises – these went down very well with the kids having to balance seesaws and work together – everyone seemed to have good fun and it kept the kids entertained. It was then back to the main building to give the kids back to the parents, and the volunteers skipped on dinner to go and have a quick Aeroball tournament (the centre staff kindly organised it for us), before coming back for the evening meet up which included some amazing costumes, and a fun disco – it was great fun just being silly and having a laugh with the kids. When the disco finished we quickly got changed and headed to the adult bar for an evening of karaoke. Once again this was a good laugh with some good singers and some bad but everyone having a good time. Finally the bar came to close so we went and sat in the lounge for a bit before finally heading to bed about 2:30 in the morning.
When my alarm went off on Monday morning my first thought was that the phone was broken and that it wasn’t nearly time to get up yet. Unfortunately it was, so it was up for breakfast and then our final two activities. We met up with the kids, and then headed off to do a climbing challenge. Once again some of the kids got really into this, whilst others preferred to watch. I ended up having to walk 4 of them back to go to the toilet and coming back to find we’d missed most of the task. After the climbing challenge we went onto the sensory trail – which was a series of blind-folded challenges – like making shapes with a rope, finding others based on noises they were making, and following a rope through some trees. This done we headed back to say bye to the kids, get some lunch, pack up and go. If I’m honest I really didn’t want to go – I’d been having so much fun it was a shame to leave. But leave I had to do, so booked my taxi, said bye to Phil – unfortunately couldn’t find any of the others to say bye too and headed off to the station. I got there to find my train in the platform, hopped on and had a good journey home. I eventually got through the front door and crashed – but I’d been expecting that. The rest of the day was spent catching up with Dr Who, and then trying to catch up with sleep.
And that is the week that was.