Tetley, Jan + a gaggle of Westminster boys
'Right! The place we'll be staying is called
Nordrach Cottage, it belongs the MCG, its nice and new, since the last one
blew up after a gas leak, so keep the mud out. OK'
'Sir, is it a German building.'
'Is it German sir?
'Giles, what are you talking about!'
'Well sir, I beleive at the end of the last century mental asylums were attempted to be built in the area, and they were in a German style.'
'Right. Thankyou Giles.'
'In the end the plan was scrapped.'
'Giles, didn't I just tell you, the place blew up.'
A surprisingly enjoyable trip to the Mendips last w/e. I'm not sure if it was the pleasure of showing clearly really intelligent kids a new sport and seeing them enjoy it and do it well. Or just I hadn't been caving for a while. But i definitely learnt a thing or two.
I arrived 45mins behind schedule in Deans Yard, and dumped my rucsac by a likely looking minibus, hoping i wasn't holding up proceedings i set off to find Mr Hooper (aka tetley). 'Jan!'. A familiar hail came across the yard 'Alright?', 'Seem to have lost the kids'. Phew. My tardiness wasn't going to be a problem at least. Six eager looking kids were soon arranged by the minibus, along with another teacher, Mark. A brief haranguing/debrief from Sir (aka tetley) and we set off.
After breakfast, i had to do something to earn my keep, and i set-up a ladder. Having forgotten slings, tethers or anyhting quite so useful I resorted to rigging with bits of Mr Hooper's SRT kit, with some shonky back-up off something shonky. Soon had all the kids up and down the ladder, no problems there, so we tried some SRT and managed to get 2 or 3 up and down before Tetley got back from Well's, again no problem. I had a feeling these kids weren't going to have any trouble in the caves.
The old classic, with a twist, down to the Drainpipe in Goatchurch, then
lights out and try to see your hands. Sit in absolute silence and listen to
the noises in the cave. Then we headed out via the coal shute, this took a
while, mainly because Mark got stuck and had to get a leg up from one of the
kids. The next bit was new, the kids were allowed to go off and explore on
their own, which they duly did, I went along and was amazed to find myself
following them down numerous small and twatty side passages with a similiar
excitement you would get pushing new cave. Tetley parked the van somewhere,
while we went to explore Lionel's Hole, none of us had been there before, but
it wasn't huge, i just had the feeling maybe this wasn't a good idea, at the
bottom it got twattier and twattier, but that wasn't stopping the more
adventurous, 'Whats down here?' 'I don't know' 'Is this the way on?' 'No idea.
Have a look.' and off they went shouting back how tight and nasty it was.
Final cave of the day was Sidcup Swallet, another new one for me, and a bit more challenging including a slippery slidy hole called the Lobster Pot.
In the evening we got a blazing fire going and went throught the classics, table traversing, baked bean can walking, broomstick yoga, egg crushing...
Wet-suited and booted, we set off to Swildon's just as it started to snow, somehow it was only 9.30am. The streamway was fantastic, there had been a fair amount of rain, and the kids were soon to fully appreciate the term 'sporting'. Apart from a few places a couple of the boys generally led the way as we visited Barnes Loop and Tratmans Temple, then headed out.
We got back to London for 7.30am, a great weekend.