What is it with Hatters weekends away and minibuses refusing to start? This is becoming as inevitable as climbing into my sleeping bag to find some fruit at the bottom of it. This weekend, we stayed at the 1st Stokenchurch HQ, a lovely building with everything that an Explorer Unit might need from showers to space hoppers. The explorers walked from here to Mill End and then then a little way along the Thames Path before being collected and taken back to base for dinner on the Saturday but that was only part of the tale.
On Friday night, there was a ‘no sleepover’ feel to trip with some snacks and films – we even lay in until nine o’clock. Dave ran a ‘Module 32A’ workshop so that one more Explorer could be authorised to use the whisk and as punishment for hiding the whisk, Rachel will not be allowed to become a qualified whisker until a much later date. After a full English breakfast the Explorers prepared themselves for a long day of walking in some pretty horrible conditions.
Drizzle turned to rain and with a chilling wind thrown in, we were surprised to find so many smiling faces when we collected them and feeling a little guilty, the leaders didn’t make them cook their own dinner. Instead, Rachel, Dave, Brian and Michael stepped up and it was only a little too much S Club 7 that finally drove Michael and Brain from the kitchen. Meanwhile, the Explorers were once again enjoying the space hoppers… Things went awry in the morning after breakfast.
On Sunday at around 10.15, we left for home and the fun started at around 10.30. With almost everyone in the blue bus, Brian, the equipment and me were in the white bus and we decided to fill it with diesel a minute or so into the journey. After filling up, we couldn’t start the bus so heroically, the blue bus returned without any Explorers actually noticing that it had turned around. We spent twenty minutes trying to jump start the bus before Jack started directing traffic and we had several attempts at a bump start, the last of which included most of us (less photographer) in florescent jackets pushing the bus down the A40.
Brian pulled in after this latest attempt and noticed a recovery vehicle parked just down the road. So, I put on my most pathetic of faces, straightened up my scarf and picked up my wallet. The very kind man gave us a short, fast tow to bump the minibus into life and an hour and a half after setting off, we were into the second mile of our journey.
I would be lying if I claimed that the weekend had gone entirely to plan but the Explorers will certainly have a story or two to tell. Thanks go to Brian for lending us a hand over the weekend, the 22nd for lending us a bus, the 1st Stokenchurch for their great facility and the anonymous recovery person who is hopefully sitting somewhere enjoying a few quick pints on us.