A few days activity break, or how to discover you have one dangerous wife

We had a great few days away at the Calvert Trust near Keswick last week with some members of the Fife Headway group, even though we were playing “dodge the rain” a lot of the time and, to be honest, the food left a lot to be desired.

After we arrived on Monday afternoon and got ourselves sorted out and fed we were kitted out with appropriate waterproof clothing and backpacks for the week. This was a good move !

Calvert Trust, Keswick

Calvert Trust, Keswick, Lake District, England

Easy strolling territory

Easy strolling territory

Tuesday morning consisted of a nature walk along an old, disused railway line.

This was a good surface for the less mobile among us to negotiate with their wheelchairs and mobility scooters. I also quite appreciated the fact that it wasn’t too challenging as my back hasn’t been my best friend of late.

Everyone seemed to enjoy it and there was plenty of flora and fauna to keep people interested.

Tuesday afternoon we loaded ourselves up into one of the minibuses and were taken to the stables.

Amanda had been looking forward to this part the most as she had always wanted to ride a horse. She picked her favourite in the stables and was lucky enough to be allocated that one by the staff.

I was too heavy for any of the horses they have there and wasn’t really interested in being taken around on a trap so I kept myself busy performing my duties as official photographer. Amanda had a good time as the group was led gently along the lane and around a couple of fields, although the second group got soaked through as yet another downpour struck.

Amanda on horseback for the first time

Amanda on horseback for the first time

Then came the scary bit…

One of the barns at the stable complex was set up for archery and, having tried it out a few years ago, I was keen to get started. John, our instructor, went through the basics with some of us and allocated the equipment. Then seeing that I was reasonably capable he concentrated on tutoring some of the others in the group.

When Amanda and the rest of her group returned from riding he gave them their instructions and everyone had a few arrows practice. John then suggested we have an archery competition and we were divided into two teams. Amanda and I were in the same team but unfortunately we lost. I still say the other team were cheating because they were using a crossbow mounted on a stand whereas our team had to do it properly.

However… there were two large targets at the end of the room and slightly in front of them a small, styrene target suspended from a beam in the roof. John had said at the beginning that the small target was worth a mass of bonus points, but we had all forgotten about that during the competition.

With the competition over Amanda said that she was going to try for the small target and, given that she had been firing off some fairly good arrows, I thought she might stand a reasonable chance of hitting it with one of a set of three.

Don’t underestimate a woman who has never done archery before…

Amanda's three arrows

Amanda's three arrows in the hanging target

Amanda hit the small target with her first arrow, missed it with the second, then hit it again with the third.

Having collected her arrows she then proceeded to put ALL of the next three in it, including one in the small blue centre spot which had only ever been hit seven times before. As soon as an arrow is sticking in it, of course, it swings around and the weight of the arrow makes it come to rest at an odd angle, thereby making the next shot more difficult.

I think I’d better watch myself in future… this woman is dangerous !

My only question would be “Why couldn’t you do that in the competition ?!”

On the Wednesday morning we had an excursion to Lake Windermere and took one of the steamers from Ambleside to Bowness and back.

We had a hour or so to wander around at Bowness and while we were there a full, low rainbow appeared like a bridge across the lake. This was really strange because it was 11:30am and the sun was quite high in the sky behind us so why the rainbow was so low and flat puzzles me somewhat.

Low rainbow at Bowness-on-Windermere

Low rainbow at Bowness-on-Windermere

Amanda and some of the group above Bassenthwaite Lake

Amanda and some of the group above Bassenthwaite Lake

Wednesday afternoon was supposed to be the Orienteering but, due to the weather and the abilities of most of our group, it was abandoned in favour of another nature walk.

This time John took us up to the top of the hill behind us and we strolled down the forestry track and in through the back of the centre.

There were plenty of different types of fungus and plants to see, and we saw a kestrel and some red squirrels. Something for everyone.

Oh yes, and there was the scenery.

Thursday. Abseiling. (Or “Rock and Rope” as they like to call it).

This was another thing I had been looking forward to because it goes against my fear of heights, and what’s an activity break without a challenge or two ?

Unfortunately we’re not talking high up in the great outdoors here because the centre is serving people with varying degrees of disability, so this all took place in the sports hall.

Amanda was just like a monkey, of course, taking everything in her stride. I wasn’t.

I managed the rock climb (slowly), the abseil (twice), and then tackled the “winch yourself seat” suspended from the ceiling, but no way was I going to do the swing from one end of the room to the other. No way !

Tom way above his comfort zone

Tom way above his comfort zone

The "other" boat

The "other" boat

The afternoon was listed as canoeing, which was another event I was looking forward to. As the weather had improved so much that day I assumed the alternative, sailing, wouldn’t come into play.
Wrong.
Despite the fact that Bassenthwaite Lake was like a mill pond in places and there was hardly any breeze to be had, sailing we went.
I started off feeling a bit miserable about the change of plan but actually ended up really enjoying it.
We were again split into two “teams”, in identical boats, loaded up (or should that be “boarded” ?), and towed out into the lake whereupon we were given some basic instruction in sailing techniques and told what was expected of us.
As I was sat at the back I was involved in the steering.

To cut a long story short not only did I really enjoy it but the instructor commented that he had been watching the way I was constantly fine-tuning the direction and said that I seemed to have a real knack of being able to hold the line just off the point at which we would be facing too much into the wind. He even suggested that I really should take up sailing because he was sure I would be good at it.
How one would know one is “good” at sailing without being in a competition I wouldn’t know, but the session has certainly sparked an interest in me so anything is possible for the future, as long as I don’t have to remember how to tie knots.

We headed back home on the Friday morning having had a really enjoyable and entertaining few days and the whole group would like to say a big “thank you” to the members of the Dalgety Bay Round Table whose efforts in the Edinbugh Marathon and other fundraising made the whole trip possible.

Further information and pictures will appear on the Fife Headway website early next month.

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