Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Richmond Venturer

My next grand adventure will commence on Friday the 30th as I undergo a day's training to become a volunteer crew member of the boat Richmond Venturer. She is the main ingredient of The River Thames Boat Project and I'm increadibly excited about the whole prospect. Here's a shocking fact: I have spent just over a year now living next to the Thames and I still haven't made it onto the river!

This hopes to address the imbalance and dreadful state of affairs and it really is volunteer work in a direction that I want to be exploring. A recent trip to the London Aquarium left me feeling like the lapsed marine biologist that I am and added to the growing conviction that I want to do something about it. The Richmond Ventura takes school groups and other groups on board for trips and river education and is fully accessible to people with disabilities, so on the whole it sounds tremendously appealing.

I am going to have to practice my starboard from my port and start calling the kitchen the 'galley' and the toilets the 'heads' and all things nautical with weird names.

I wonder if "Ahoy matey!" and "Aye, aye Captain" are acceptable phrases on board...

Visits abroad

I'm licking the last remaining sugary goo off my fingers from a fragment of Brighton Rock that HM1 brought back with her yesterday from, well, Brighton. It's been ages since I had any, and it quite nicely rounds off a lovely weekend.

I trained it over to "Swampea" (as the predictive text on my phone calls the place) on Friday for a few days of catching up with friends and enjoying a joint 30th birthday party in a field. I went to the their joint 25th birthday party which makes me feel like I've been in the UK a really long time now... I had tasty Indonesian food on Friday and thoroughly enjoyed the warm sunny Saturday that I spent wandering around Mumbles and then onto Murton on the Gower.

I managed a visit to the Red Cafe to see them in action (ie overrun with toddlers!) and to fit in a years worth of news into an hour with one of the managers. A couple of weeks ago my flip flops came apart as I was cycling. This was a tragic event, if not entirely unexpected, as these were my favourite shoes and I had worn them almost exclusively for the past three summers. It can be very hard to replace items that command such respect but while in Mumbles I had a wave of genius: why not go to the same shop I bought the first pair from and get another... I am now the owner of another pair of flip flops and in the process of introducing my feet to them and I have high hopes of them lasting the next three years!

The party took place in glorious sunlight, with a lovely bbq, great massive tipii with a sound system and decks, a fire, lots of lovely people - and no bloomin' planes flying over my head! I felt completely relaxed and like I was on holiday plus I had a good dance. In fact I stayed up till the last song and saw the dawn come in. The music was a crazy mixture of childrens songs early in the evening, a live folk band, and whatever music the dj's fancied playing into the night. It was lovely to have so many families with children in the early afternoon/evening and see them all running around - about the same height as the grass - and pretending to be like the pigs on the land.

London really does have a sad lack of tipiis in fields and big open fires to gather around.

On Sunday I got the grand tour of two allotments of my University friends and I think I might have a grave case of "allotment envy". Although it did show up how very little I do know about gardening in general. I hope something will grow out the back in my titchy, tiny patch...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Roller coasters are definately not my thing

HM1 organised a youth trip to Thorpe Park today and we had a minibus full of people. I was roped into going along to the theme park as a "responsible adult" (he hee), which I don't object to per se. It's all them roller coasters that I'm not so keen on! In fact I hate most of them. Which does tend to make things a little tricky. I volunteered to go with the group that doesn't want to do the scary rides - but they still chose a whole bunch of rides that terrify me. I think I must've missed the bit in the youth worker training that taught one how to do roller coasters (along with the skill of playing pool - another excrutiatingly important youth worker skill that I never quite mastered...)

Another co-worker today made a passing comment about willingly facing up to one's mortality in these extreme moments. Okay, I can see where he's coming from just about. But I'm still struggling with the "why"... Now teacups, on the other hand, those I do like, but I'd be hard-pressed to find much morality in them! Youth worker or no, I still don't like roller coasters.