Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Far from Findus - WSM 2017

Blog post 1 - Departure from the UK

I am writing this post on the plane to Iceland. It's through hard work that I'm here. I started my scout life as a cub and I had no idea that 10 years later I would travel to a foreign country and take part in a vast camp with scouts from across the world. Crazy how things change.

Getting more involved in scouts presented this opportunity to me which I eagerly grabbed with both hands. I had no idea how to fund such an adventure.

I worked really hard to find a job and was successful, so got a job at the Trespass store in Yeovil. Each months pay was split and a sum of money was put aside and used for each of the required installments. It was tough to save money but I was determined to succeed.

May saw me pay the last installment and everything was complete. I was almost set for Iceland. Just kit to buy (which was easy as I can buy stuff from work) and that's me.

May past and so did June and the days slowly counted down. July, however, rushed by and, before I knew it, it was the week before my flight out to Iceland.

I spent the past week working at Trespass and packing my bags. My tent went into my 100 litre holdall, followed by my self-inflating air mattress, sleeping bag (bought from work), stuff to swap and clothes. I forgot any spare footwear. I unpacked my gear and filled by trainers and crocs with my smalls and ditched two t-shirts and a pair of jeans. All my gadgets were charged and my carry on bag, my camera rucksack, was packed. I had the genius idea of using flags and scarves as padding in my backpack, to protect my delicate lenses and camera body.

I woke up at 5:30 this morning, got dressed, had breakfast, put my bags in the car and left for Heathrow. On the way we picked my buddy Luke up from Ilchester as he's going to Iceland too. Contingent said we had to be there 3 hours in advance, so 10:10 was the deadline, and rocked up at 9:40. Checked in, deposited our bags and met up with the gang. Through security we went and into the departure lounge. Bought some food with the last of my pounds and chilled to kill some time. (Mum, if I had money I would have got you something from the Kath Kidston store)


We flew to Keflavik, the only international airport in Iceland. Arrival was smooth and border control was fine. Unfortunately, they wouldn't stamp my passport. We then picked up our bags and took the coach to the accommodation in Reykjavik, which is a 40 minute journey. A group of us went to a nice restaurant where I paid the equivalent of about £20 for a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. Next, we went swimming (so had to communally shower naked). I say swimming, I mean chilling in the hot tub. We then had a contingent briefing before going on a small walk which ended in hot chocolates and donut-ish treats. Then back to the school accommodation and to bed. A long day and I saw the sunset but it's still light. It's gonna take some getting used to but I'm ready for the challenge. Enough for one day. To sleep!

Days 2-5 - Selfless in Selfoss

On Tuesday morning was the Moot opening ceremony. 4,000 people crammed into a sports hall was a little bit uncomfortable but nothing I wasn't used to (especially after going to games at St Mary's Stadium). It was great to be surrounded by and singing in (sort-of) harmony with scouts from a vast array of cultures, languages and nations. Why couldn't the world be more like this???

We were then bussed out to our various expedition centres. Mine was the charming town of Selfoss, in the south of the island. It was an hour's bus ride away from Reykjavik, and has a population of about 6,000. It's a beautiful town, which sits at the bottom of a mountain called Ingolsfjall. We hiked up it on Wednesday morning then went through a lava tube in the afternoon. It was the only complete darkness I have experienced so far in Iceland.

On Thursday we went to do our community service and then went to a smithy in the afternoon. We painted the play equipment at the local kindergarten and went to a school for lasagna for lunch. During the afternoon the wind picked up and by about 2:30 it was seriously gusty. Gazebos were taking off and one rolled across the next field. We were struggling to hold them down so in the end they were destroyed by the wind. One marquee fell over and crushed a sleeping tent with someone inside. Fortunately, she was fine. I found my self on a team holding down a marquee while the panels were taken off. I'm one of the lightest around so I wasn't much use. Food was brought to a container for storage and we were told to grab essentials for evacuation. Some people grabbed everything. I also dropped my tent to stop it from getting damaged by the wind. We were taken to a nearby school to have dinner and spend the night. We were ferried back to the campsite to grab the rest of our kit including our tents. The wind eased but it was probably the best decision to evacuate the campsite for the sake of a few nervous campers. The music system was used and the school sports hall turned into a disco come games hall. Raves, basketball and ninja was all in full swing. Spending the night in the hall did provide the comfort of darkness, all except gaps in the window blackouts and the emergency exit lights. Every cloud and all that!

Friday brought a free morning before we went to climb a mountain. On arrival, we were told that we could go to a geothermal and hydroelectric power station to browse an exhibition about harnessing the power of the water and it was really fascinating. We left there and got on a coach back to Selfoss, picking up a lot of people, and all while I was asleep.

There was a campfire in the evening before leaving to head to Ulfjotsvatn Scout Centre a day early. In bed that night I heard snipe drumming overhead which was awesome.

The next day was a chill day which involved napping and sorting out the food that came from Selfoss and distributing it amongst the 11 tribes. This campsite is pretty cool and is right on the bank of a lake. I caught up with a few folks from the UK Contingent before the welcome party which was a blast. Icelandics definitely know how to throw a party.

And that's what I've been up to since Tuesday

Me birding in Bristol

Me birding in Bristol
Me birding in Bristol