DofE 7.0, White Peak,

Warm in the sunshine, cooler later. 20°C, very, very high pollen..

Bronze qualifying: camped in Alstonfield, as previously. I’ve worked for this school for years and this is the most capable and well behaved groups they’ve ever had.

7.2, some of the girls wanted to sleep out under the clear sky. A cloudless sky is promised and the wind should drop. I can’t think of a reason to refuse. Some therefore, slept out undeer a tarp; others, in survival bags. It’s one lf those lovely romantic things to do when you are a teenager. ‘Romantic’ in the old fashioned sense of the word; not all that boy-meets-girl rubbish.

Since they were all so well behaved and we’ll organised, there were no anecdotes to collect. They’re not even the first to sleep out. Most didn’t wake during the night so didn’t see Jupiter blazing in the early morning sky.

Here I am, briefing a group before setting off on day 2.

That was a good easy trip unless you count the drive home on the M6. I don’t mind tbe long stretches of 50mph, it’s the unexplained 20mph miles that were so tiring.

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DofE 6.0: Surrey Hills

Good weather with mild nights and slightly less hot days. 20°C

Another long drive south to the Surrey Hills. The campsite is in clearings in woodland with dry ground. There are many groups here, probably more scouts than anything other.

We instructors have more groups to deal with than usual on this trip. Most of us have two groups which I’ve done many times before. The problem today was the difference in routes and pace of my two groups. They quickly increased separation by two miles. Maybe. Group 9 were not heard of for hours. Eventually, I came upon them by chance in a sunken lane. That’s a bad place, in shadow, in very narrow with no footpaths. Add to that the number of large 4x4s rushing about. Poor navigation led one group down this lane. There is a decent path parallel and quite close. I presume they were getting tired.

Here I am, on a checkpoint brewing up some coffee.

Day Two: much better for both groups, enough to pass clearly.

This is a trig point found in woods near the North Down way. Apparently, the trees have grown since the trig point was used because these things require a clear view of other hillsides.

While I was searching for my second group, I passed this trig point on the ridge. The heavy undergrowth and tall trees illustrate how long these posts have been here.

The day finished ontime but I didn’t see the second group until the end point. My first group were raring to go home but made a point of seeing me first. They were full of smiles and gratitude for my time with them. What a delightful group of girls. These are kids whose lives have been nice to them, they were brought up by likable people and had few traumas in their upbringing. It shows what difference all that makes. I’m back at the PRU tomorrow for the contrast.

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Lollipop route.

23°C, light NW, milky sunshine, still dry.

I rode Racelite with MapMyRide+! Distance: 65.81km, time: 02:46:14, pace: 2:32min/km, speed: 23.75km/h.

This driveway looked quite desolate last time I passed, that was just afternthe trees were coppiced. Now, in recovery, they’re looking better.

Anyway, the ride was in very nice conditions so the pace good. Stopped at Velo Cafe at Twin Lakes, possibly the best cycle cafe around here. The next part of the route inadvertently turned into a lolipop route. Home too early, or start too late more likely.

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DofE 5.0: Parbold

21°C, white cloud with very high pollen.

Some schools vary the rules on their expeditions. This one uses the same route for all groups on qualifying, they are in the same area as their practice and a few other oddities. However, they do respect the ‘principles of DofE’.

The kids are from the edges of liverpool, St. Helens. They’re very likable, open, relaxed and friendly. We leaders were warned lightly about them, but I was gjven a super group. They were friendly, generous and polite at all times.

In practice. I mostly supervised two groups, the first, assigned to me. The second did not handle crossing tbe cattle field well at all. They were shrieking and jumping about as they approached the herd. A larget herd of mixed bullocks, cows and calves. This was the only occasion I told them off. Eventually, i reached the group and explained what to do.

Back at camp, I received a funny back-handed compliment, “I’d rather be told-off by you than that lot“, referring to their own teachers. She was anxious about disqualification for something trivial but I reassured them. These kids are very open and upfront, in contrast to some in the outher groups from the south.

That marks the end of a 6-day week. More is to come, I get 1 day off, then work a 16-day week. Summer holidays will be a respite when I can get on wih decorating my house.

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Recovery ride (again)

I rode Mustang with MapMyRide+! Distance: 16.41km, time: 54:16, pace: 3:18min/km, speed: 18.15km/h.

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Plumbing, is this the most annoying DIY job?

Very warm, sunny and close. 24°C.


It leaked, left rusty marks and was difficult to remove. I ended up removing the whole sink to get at the rusty bolts.

How much better is this? A clean route, new pipes and tap-set. The job was slowed by not having the best tools. Especially a screwdriver that can reach awkward corners out of sight.

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DofE 4: recovery.

24°C hot sun while the Midlands are flooding after their storms.

Group 5 had the brilliant idea of spraying their tent with midge repellant. The oil in the spray has damaged the waterproofing on the flysheet. The ‘beading’ still works but the fabric ‘wets’.

I volunteered to take the two tents home and treat with my proofing spray.

The rascals have given me all the tents in the group not just the damaged ones. I was quite clear about the ones I wanted, but here we are.

All this while I’m feeling really very ill. Every muscle aches and I need frequent sleeps. Nevermind, my discomfort is small compared to Y’s pain from her injured knee. I know how much that can hurt because I’ve had the same injury before.

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DofE 4.3: change of weather and an emergency.

Rain from before dawn. 13°C, easing through the day.

A slightly slower start becaue of the rain. It fell upon me to breif and set all the groups off. All 72 kids. It was an hour and a half before all groups were underway. Hat time flew flr me and gave a temporary repite from my throaty cold that arose overnight. The rest of tne team packed a d took the maquee down around us.

A call for help: over the radio, we got a call for help, somebody was injured from group 3. Chris and I set off once we got the grid reference. After some searching around, we found them. The grid reference was slightly out but 2 of the girls stood on our path to meke it easy.

I got there first. The casualty was sat on the edge of a gravel path, cold and in pain from a fall that twisted her knee. I’m so glad the recent first aid course was of such high quality. It was obvious that apart from her knee and losing body heat quickly, there were no serious injuries. Priority was then to get her warm. Out came carry mats, a sleeping bag and my bothy bag. Another girl got inside with the casualty and the warmth gradually built up. Meanwhile, Chris radioed to get colleagues to phone for an ambulance. I fixed a tie to hold her feet together, including the one that was at a funny angle. There was very little else I could do, she had to guide me on what is comfortable but couldnt have any painkiller.

It took quite a while for the ambulamce to arrive but the First Responders were quicker. They gave Y some gas-air painkiller and she had the giggles. With 3 staff and 2 medics, I decided to move out to make myself useful elsewhere. There were 3 groups unaccounted for to the east. I set off but missed the fiasco of the ambulances getting stuck in the gravel.

Apparently, the Forest Rangers were not impressed with the ambulances but they were with our first aid response. We found one group and the other two completed by themselves. That took about 3 miles of walking on an empty stomach.

I’ve paid a personal price for this day. Although I didn’t get cold at any point, I now have a heavy head-cold. Its not made any easier by incremental tiredness and giving my food away to kids who raised the call for help. They were so brilliant, they deserved a better reward than a smokey-cheese sandwich.

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DofE 4.0: Cannock Chase.

17° C, sunny and dry.

Very early start, wake at 4am and pack to drive the 100 miles to the school. The other staff for the trip were out and about gathrring kit and minibuses. So I hung my head round the drama studio door. All of the kids were there, with their kit ready. Then something happened that I will never forget. I got a standing ovation! They roared and whooped. I’ve never had a welcome like that, it send a shiver down my spine.

The coach ride to the start point was relatively short, and day 1 was training in navigation and camp craft. The group I had were easily the most receptive I’ve worked with this year. I got through masses of material which meant they got the most out of me too,

This little guy landed on my map while we were discussing a navigation descision. The girls recoiled until they saw my reaction, with one hand, i manouvered my phone and unlocked it for the photo. All the while expressing wonder at this little chap. It worked, the girs came over and took pictures of their own. This is a way that city kids can become comfortable with this environment.

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DofE 3 Surrey Hills.

20°C, blue skies and no wind. Cold mornings 5°C typically.

Wilson’s school bronze practice.

Cold mornings and some fog. Mornings were cold, as low as


A fine pine tree near a checkpoint.

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