At around 6:30 p.m. we all gathered around Harrow Bus Station, a location a bit too familiar for some of our group, with our huge backpacks waiting for the train that would take us to the well-known, extremely exciting place of Chesham. It was here that we were going to carry out our Bronze Assessment Expedition. However all of our group were already tired as we had just completed the practice expedition only a week ago and during that week we rushed around to get our equipment and do our route cards.
So there we were in Harrow, carrying these huge rucksacks, getting weird looks from people passing by, and waiting patiently for the train to take us to our destination, which as usual was delayed. When it finally did come we did as the assessors instructed us and got on the train SAFELY. From there it only took half an hour to reach Chesham station and once there we were hurried onto a minibus, which took us all the way to Braidwood. This is where we were going to stay for the next two action-packed nights. As soon as we reached the campsites we decided to pitch our tents. We did it so well that when the girls arrived they asked us for help to pitch their tent, as they couldn’t figure out the simple task by themselves.
After, we spent the rest of the time relaxing and it wasn’t till about ten o’clock at night that the other groups decided they were hungry and they set up their trangias. After seeing them eating we soon became aware of the emptiness within our stomachs and so we followed suit and cooked our baked beans and spaghetti and ate them straight out of the can. As usual there was a mess left behind, and as the all the groups were cooking near our tent we were blamed for everyone’s rubbish however we did clear it up which shows our excellent voluntary contribution in helping to make Braidwood an enjoyable and clean environment for millions of others.
As usual we got into trouble for cooking so late at night and were told to go to bed instantly with three of us in one tent and two in the other. However looking back on what happened that night I am ashamed to say that we were very loud as this disrupted any chance which the assessors had of sleeping and as a result made them grumpy. But we did show a level of maturity when two of the boys in our group insisted to keep the girls out of their tent after the assessors had told us to stay in our own tents. But they did not succeed as the girls forced their way in and a few seconds later they were caught by the assessors. They were already very annoyed with everyone and this just made it worse. They threatened to send the culprits home in the morning and looking book on the situation I understand that they had every right to do so. However the fact of the matter is kids are kids and when they are in a new environment with friends (of the same and opposite sex) they will get over excited.
Diary Entry: 11th May 2002- 2nd Expedition
On the Saturday we woke at 5 o’clock after getting only a few hours sleep. Being the lively people that we are, we packed away our tents and prepared ourselves for our upcoming trek across fields littered with faeces and unknown roads and forests with hidden footpaths.
As we were ready so early we changed the times on our route card and moved them all a half hour earlier but the vital mistake was that we forget to change it on the other route card which the assessors were following. This mistake almost cost us the chance of passing.
So at 9:30 we left the campsite and began our long, eventful hike. The first part of the journey went excellently but then we came to the field that we knew oh so well with the very annoying horses. When we approached them I distinctly remember a weird stench coming from Bhavik and it reminded me of the infamous incident which happened the week before with the same horses. That is another story which you can read about in the earlier edition of the diary entry of the exciting Duke of Edinburgh files. However, being the brave, young gentlemen that we are we crossed over into the field (some were more reluctant than others…not mentioning any names but…erm…Bhavik). Surely enough the horses, who had nothing better to do, decided to chase us around the field again but this time they took a strong liking to Gorby as they chewed away at his roll mat leaving it covered with horse slobber. URGH!!! However Gorby was more than happy to let them chew away at his bag and we didn’t mind as it meant the killing machines were distracted and the rest of us pegged it across to the opposite gate.
Once over the gate they said goodbye to the horses with many four-letter words that I’ve never even heard before in my life, but little did we know we had to cross the same field the next day. The rest of the day passed quickly as we stuck to our routes and followed our times perfectly. We noticed that as we were so incredibly ‘fit’ we managed to walk a kilometre in well under twenty minutes so we ended up getting much longer breaks than our route cards said, but of course we weren’t complaining.
However the most annoying thing was just when we thought there was only two kilometres left and no chance of us getting lost the unspeakable happened and, yep you guessed it, WE GOT LOST! We were casually strolling down the road realising we had to take the next footpath on the right but we missed the one we were supposed to take, although this was a simple mistake to make as Graham also missed it. We ended up taking the next footpath along which was parallel and also ran into the same wood. As we were so afraid of getting lost now, being so close to the campsite, we checked our bearings several times and as the two paths were going in the same direction we were mislead into believing that we were going the right way. So technically we were doing the right things but we were actually wrong (if that makes any sense at all). This simple mistake ended up with us having to walk an extra two kilometres at least. Even though this seems such an obvious mistake to make there was no way for us to actually realise we had done it until we ended up reaching a road that was a kilometre away from the place we needed to be. With all the confusion and the extra walking we reached the campsite 45 minutes late which isn’t TOO bad.
The rest of the evening went by pretty quickly with nothing interesting happening but in the evening we had a life-threatening incident with the trangia setting fire to the crate. This happened because someone accidentally knocked over the trangia and the methylated spirit fell onto the crate and caught fire. I would just like to take the opportunity to say that it was none of our group that did it as we were standing on the other side and had finished our cooking. Anyways as I was saying, there was huge panic, with girls and boys screaming, running for their lives but the awesomely heroic leaders managed to put the fire out. I would also like to say thank you to these people as they managed to save the life of us children, but more importantly the life of Braidwood.
After the drama died down and our hearts stopped racing, we were sent to bed. The whole day’s action caught up on us and we slept for a whole 4 hours before waking up at 6:00 the next morning.