June 27, 2013 by sueflora
Well hello there,
As the majority of you will know, Duke of Edinburgh is a programme which you can take as bronze, silver, and for the brave ones of you, gold. The award consists of getting involved in volunteer work, taking up a physical activity, and participating in a skill which can be anything from playing a musical instrument to collecting train tickets, probably. This is done over a number of months, depending on which award you are taking. And finally, last but by no means least (ahem) the anticipated expedition, which we must say we thoroughly enjoyed. *sarcasm*
This bit is going to make you think of us as complete, pathetic weaklings but you may be able to empathise with us once you hear out stories. Although we have only just done our bronze…yes bronze…we have decided that it was challenging enough to post a blog ranting about the disasters that occurred with hope that people can relate to them or learn from these mistakes of ours, and therefore have a more enjoyable experience than we did.
The bronze award only requires for you to camp out one night, and walk for 6 hours for two days. That doesn’t sound that bad. And that’s what we thought. We found that if you plan and organise well, then the trip can be as easy and fun as possible, but sometimes you don’t always do this, like us.
I (Sue) literally had the worst of luck brought down from the Gods above, I was the unfortunate person which everything happened to, yes it had to be me. It was our practise and I basically was all kitted up with my shiny new gear and clothes and was feelin’ great 😉 So we set off, the first couple km were good but then we got to a muddy field. I know what you’re thinking, “she’s going to fall in” ;well not really (sorry to disappoint) but something else fell…after we got through that field we were so grateful that we got through when I realised that the
SOLE OF MY SHOE FELL OFF
…what?! You read it right. I know I know but tis true children, this literally happened and the thing that fell into the muddy field was my walking shoe sole and the funny thing is that I didn’t even notice it for around thirty minutes after it fell off.
That’s not it though, I told my instructors and they gave me a normal pair of Nike trainers and walking poles for support, as the shoes didn’t have any ankle support and we trod on and on. We’d walked around 5 hours or so (around 4h after the incident) and I slipped down a hill and twisted my ankle, mmm hmmm really. You’re probably not even surprised right now. Well we got there slowly and painfully limping and I literally collapsed on the floor with the 10kg bag (probably heavier) pushing me down, I sat up. It started to rain, I was really hating life, hating everything. But then as i thought it could get no worse I got a nose bleed, and I just cried, just cried like a baby who’d lost its candy. Why? Why? Why did it happen all to me? I really just died that day, well it felt like it. If you think this is fake it wasn’t, I know it sounds unrealistic but it was very very true, unfortunately. But it was a very memorable experience, although for the wrong reason. 🙂
So here are some top tips to survive D of E and make your expedition as enjoyable as it can be and not have a disaster like me:
- Complaining does not solve anything: it really doesn’t.
- Keep smiling to maintain morale in your team, this really helps a lot.
- Be with people you feel comfortable with, someone you dislike will not help you as an individual or you team as a group at all.
- Pack as light as you possibly can, not a huge inflatable bed which my friend brought… O.o and books to read are not really needed…(*cough* Anna 😉 )
- Bring savoury food- snacking on jelly babies all the time will undoubtedly make you very ill. Also pack food that you actually like, not compressed vacuum packed pasta carbonara it’ll look and taste like sick… And you don’t want to eat that after six hours of walking.
- Don’t bring unnecessary items – you’re never going to use them.
- A good pair of boots are key, yes yes they are.
- Waterproofs which are actually waterproof might help, mine weren’t, I was soaked.
- Look after one another – although you may feel rubbish yourself, you need to try and make other people less rubbish, as as the old primary school saying goes ‘treat everyone how you yourself would like to be treated’, the thing your timid preschool teacher said might actually help.
- Get a good rest sleep before hand, you’re gonna get grumpy, you don’t wanna be mega grumpy or it’ll just last the whole day.
You may think these tips are just clichés, no, we found that they actually are relevant. Also, in general, if you buy good quality kit, you’ll thank yourself as it really WILL make a difference if you spend another £10 ($20) on an actual rain coat.
Okay, to be honest, we do not sound too keen about the expedition, but don’t get us wrong, it was actually great fun having to look after ourselves and having the sense of independence, and looking back at it now, we are genuinely glad and proud to have done it. Overall, we both agree that it was worth while. 🙂
ADIÓS, and here’s a piccy of us at the BEGINNING of the expedition, explains the smiling.. 🙂
If you’re looking to purchase any specific items for DofE, we recommend visiting Cotswold as they sell some very good quality outdoors equipment and are very helpful in finding what you need!