Friday, April 18, 2008

Sausages and the Stig

Above/below : Children's Holiday Venture participants learning backwoods cooking skills.

A distinct absence of campers this weekend, except for the usual local Scouts who seem to be completely unaffected by cold weather or hardship. Both accomodation buildings were fully booked though, which kept everyone busy on the activity front.

A Boys' Brigade group were staying in the Henderson Building, whilst the Children's Holiday Venture from Edinburgh were in the Richmond Chalet. The CHV have been long-term users of the centre and are a charity which is run entirely by students from Edinburgh University. They provide a range of social events for children from deprived areas, and have held camps at Fordell for many years.

Saturday was fairly busy with numerous on-site activities; the BB's trying out the new BMX skills course and inflatable gladiators/sumo, while the CHV took part in archery and crate climbing. This was the first time some of the children had tried these activities and they had a great time, the crates in particular proving popular.

Above : The birthday BBQ was going splendidly until Mr Rain decided to gatecrash. Luckily the 2 stranded sausages were rescued by the staff.

The lack of campers gave the staff the luxury of having a night off from having to clean the toilets, and an extra half-hour of relaxation in the staffhut.

Onto sunday and a few day visits kept things busy with two kids birthday parties. One of them braved the weather for a barbeque next to the wet weather hall, which went well until the weather forced everyone to flee. Luckily for the staff though, they forgot to take their sausages and rolls with them, so the evening meal problem was swiftly solved.

Above : Bob and Henry practice for the World Curling Championships.

In between and after activities, a few other projects were worked on - Fordell's own ginger 'Stig' went up to the quad track to try to get some helmet-cam footage, which was moderately successful after a number of technical difficulties. After learning not to unplug the video cable during the run, the Stig and team managed to get some reasonable footage of a flying lap which will appear on the blog shortly (after certain file conversion problems have been overcome...).

Later in the evening, a few of the staff who had no homes to go to had an enjoyable session on the new(ish) bouldering wall in the wet weather hall, trying to make up a range of new bouldering routes. After a couple of hours of hard grafting, a range of routes were created ranging from easy to impossible, and an official guide shall no doubt be made up shortly before groups start using the facility.

Above : Human spider Stevie hangs over a vertiginous 50mm drop

Friday, April 11, 2008

Zipline training

Above : making the most of the (slightly) lighter evenings

With the daylight hours now starting to creep further into the evenings, Bob took advantage and held a zipline training session for some of the staff on the Monday. Roped activities are assessed yearly by the site's technical adviser, and it was a good opportunity to brush up on technique before they happen again in the next month or two.

4 staff turned up - Colin (Coco), Neil, Barrie and Scott (Ginga). After half an hour in the office going over all the equipment (and checking the kettle was still working), the team headed up to the zipline to make the most of the remaining light. The zipline platform itself is not the roomiest of places, so it was only possible for 2 at a time to climb up and practice setting everything up.

Above : Coco helps Barrie with his escapology act

After a highly productive hour or so, the light started to fade quickly and it was time to make a quick exit, making sure that no equipment was left lying around for the squirrels to play with. Ginga had made a rather hasty retreat from the top platform after complaining of feeling ill, but luckily made it safely to the ground without any major incident.

Above : Coco deep in thought.

Above : Ginga downclimbs briskly after feeling slightly ill at the top.

The staff are planning several other training sessions over the next few weeks for the zipline and other activities such as the Jacob's ladder - and there are also plans to get some exciting headcam footage of most of the activities which will no doubt make its way onto the blog soon (previous plans to upload first-person-footage of the challenge course had to be cancelled when Callum fell off the easiest obstable, ruining the video and almost ruining the headcam...)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Winter wonderland

Above : Local scouts awake to find themselves magically transported to Narnia

Just when it looked like the summer days were nearly here again, along came an unexpected weather front which left the whole site with a light dusting of snow. The first person to witness the snow was a certain un-named Fellowship member (not a million miles away from here) who decided to pop outside at the unearthly time of 7:15am in order to take some photographs of the snow for the blog. Unfortunately for him, the other staff (who were all soundly sleeping in the hut) had neglected to inform him that they had changed the code for the combination lock on the front of the staffhut, and thus the intrepid photographer found himself locked outside in the freezing cold for some considerable time until he could be rescued.
Henry, who is normally up at the crack of dawn, unexpectedly decided to treat himself to a long lie, and thus it was not until ten past eight that our hero finally made it back into the warmth of the hut.

Above : Trying to thaw out the flags before flagbreak.

As the snow deepened, most of the morning activities were cancelled - even flagbreak, although some intrepid scouts decided to go ahead with it anyway. The Airdrie scouts who were staying in the Richmond Chalet made the most of the snow, which included pelting their leaders (and the Chalet) with snowballs before they were marched back inside.

Above : Airdrie scouts making the most of the disappearing snow.

Above : Luckily there was plenty of work to be getting on with in the staffhut.

Above : Scott of the Antarctic

Just as suddenly as it had appeared, the snow disappeared and the sun came out. By this time, most of the groups were packing up to go home, although some of them did manage to take part in a few of the site activities.

Above : the sun waited until the last group had left before making a grand return.

The staff, meanwhile, got on with a few more interesting task, including the one which they had avoided all weekend. During the week, a large squad had made a trip to Edinburgh to collect lots of equipment and furniture from a school which is closing down - and had returned with a wooden rowing boat which they planned to put in the playpark.

Above : Captain Bob and his loyal crew set sail for the playpark

Led on by the fearless Captain Bob, the crew swiftly moved the boat to its mooring in the middle of the play area, ready for lots of pint-sized pirates to play with in the future.

Above : safely docked and waiting for some kids to arrive