Saturday, 28 May 2011

What a fantastic weekend!

Last weekend we headed down to Devon for a fun 48 hours at the Calvert Trust's Exmoor centre. It's a wonderful venue with fully accessible accommodation set around a central courtyard garden. We were able to choose to go for a 'fully catered' break as they offer Gluten Free meals... this is the first time in over 5 years I haven't had to cook for the family at all for such a long time!

When we returned home, sous chef J wrote this, typically succinct, summary:-

"We went to the Calvert Trust on Exmoor. I did 6 activities and these were; crate stacking, a giant swing, bikes, abseiling, a fast zip wire and canoeing.

My instructor was called Jack. I had a brilliant time."

This blog post is, hopefully, going to elaborate a little more on our weekend.

On Saturday morning, after getting to know the members of our group of 12, we headed for the first activity, which was crate stacking. Jack, our instructor, explained how to get our harnesses and hats on and also what would be happening. It was all done with ease and we got ourselves ready.

In an amazing change of character, sous chef J was adamant he would go first... with one of the other group members. There was no doubt the two of them knew exactly what they were doing and both seemed to enjoy the hanging around at the end of their impressive climb. Next, J moved onto handing the crates over to the next two intrepid stackers. He loved it all.

Those of us that wanted to also had a turn on the giant swing before the end of the session. Sous chef J took great pleasure in making sure I was hoisted to the max position before releasing the swing!

After a quick lunch, we were off for an afternoon of biking fun. Again, Jack explained what was expected, supplied the bikes and helmets and checked we were all in control of the brakes. We went around the Wistlandpound Reservoir - some of us on KMX karts, others using hand crank machines and there was also a wheelchair carrying trike which was very impressive indeed. As you can see, sous chef J headed out at the front of the pack!

We worked as a team, stopping regularly and helping those that needed it with the more challenging, gravelly slopes. Towards the end of the afternoon, a time trial was set up and there was some competitive action seeing who could negotiate the course safely and in the quickest time.

Before heading off for our meal, we were given a brief lesson in bike maintenance, cleaned our kit and returned it to the store shed. That evening a group of us went for a swim in the wonderful pool (there's also a steam room and hot tub). It's a constant depth, has a hoist for those that need it, and is the perfect temperature for relaxing. By 8pm J was flagging so we returned to our lovely triple bedded room (with en suite wet room) and by 9pm J was asleep! They were having a disco in the bar but we can't comment on that as we didn't make it that far!

On Sunday morning, I had to wake sous chef J at 8am (an UNHEARD OF event) as breakfast (delicious full English fare) was from 8.30-9am... only reminding him that it was abseiling succeeded in getting him to start the day.

As the forecast was for sharp rain showers, Jack handed out waterproofs to those who wanted them and we headed over to the climbing wall. Again, before the morning's activity, we were told what safety kit we needed and Jack checked we'd put it on correctly. Without much delay, J was ready for action.

After a demo on the practice slope and an on-wall show of skill, it was time to take the leap of faith. J waited to watch a tandem descent and then opted for a solo abseil - he looked happy and managed without any hesitation at all.

Having watched the rest of the group have their turns, it was my turn. We decided that, as I had never done abseiling before, it would be nice to have a companion. This is me and sous chef J abseiling... he's almost as good an instructor as his new pal, Jack!

Next we moved over to the zipwire and the daring amongst us took our turns. It was exhilarating and I was pleased to be attached via my harness.

After an impressive lunch of baked potatoes with a choice of all/some of cheese, coleslaw and beans we finished up our activities with canoeing on the reservoir. It was the activity sous chef J had been really keen to try... as he's "done it on the wii". Everyone had a great time and it was the epitome of a team event.

At the end of the weekend we were asked to fill out evaluation forms. I expressed surprise when sous chef J marked the question relating to taking part in activities you didn't think you could as a neutral... I'd marked mine as agree strongly. He said "I put that because I KNEW at Calvert I could do anything" - can't think of a better way to sum up the weekend's activities.

We met lovely people in our group, took part in great activities, the staff were wonderful, the accommodation was spotless and the food (gluten free for us) was prepared by someone else. What more could I ask for?!

If you or someone you know has a disability or special needs then you really should check out the Calvert Trust - they certainly seem well able to cope with anything.

You can follow the Calvert Trust on twitter @CalvertTrust and the Exmoor Centre are @CalvertExmoor

1 comment:

  1. this is just amazing .... Wow congrats on all the new experiences & the not needing to cook .. I am impressed