Friday night saw me wandering up to the station to collect Becci, since she could only make 5.45 and the Rhino was determined to leave before that. Penny had said, look out for a `Blue and White hippy skirt, and black jacket'. The station was very busy, and I was beginning to think I'd made a bad mistake. If she'd changed, we were doomed, not having made any contingency plans. By 6.00 she hadn't arrived, and I was wandering around the station picking on any stray female who looked lost, asking them if they were Becci. Luckily just after 6.00 she arrived, resplendent in blue and white skirt, having missed her 1st train, panic over.
We dashed across town on the off-chance we might be able to cut off the mini-bus so Becci could travel in the luxury of the bus, rather than the squaller of my car. As luck would have it we caught them up just as they were pulling out from Churchill. A quick transfer, annoying everyone by stopping on the main road, and we were off!
[cut to Saturday missing boring drive, lots of traffic, lots of fog, a narrowly missed pub, and a full (as usual) hut]
Saturday morning saw most people up at 8.00am!!! Even Sam was out of bed before 9.00. A lot of dithering about trips, and a quick trip into Wells by me to buy some wetsocks and kneepads, and it was time to go caving.
Me, Sam, Gill, Ian, Ian, John went down Swildons, the rest down Manor Farm. I'll leave the Manor Farm trip to someone else. Our trip was billed as 'Swildons Short Round (ish)' on the callout board. This was a perfect description. Our plan was to go down to the mud sump and see whether it was open/divable/closed, since we had been told that it might be closed. This we did. We arrived at the top of the pitch to find not 1 party queueing, not 2, not 3, but ZERO people queueing. This is almost unheard of, and I was so confused, I decided to kill some time by letting Ian (or was it John --- sorry, I get horribly confused in my old age) line me down the pitch. A quick test to see whether he was awake by jumping off at the bottom, and he was allowed to line everyone down (except Sam, as someone had to abseil down). What he doesn't realise is that that now makes him a qualified trip leader ...
We had a false start out of the stream-way at what we thought was Tratman's Temple, and I had a bit of a wobbly trying to get down again after following Sam up (`Sam, I don't really remember it being quite this exposed' said I ... ). Found it second time, and wormed our way to the mud SUMP. And it definitely was. I had a go at lying in it and trying to remember what it looked like without any water in, but eventually decided that the amount of water would mean the sump was probably around 3 or 4 meters long, too long without a line, by around 3 or 4 meters! We had a quick go at bailing but it was obviously futile, so we retreated.
Made our way back to the stream-way, and down to Sump 1. I went through first, and managed to avoid complaining, too much. After assuring Ian, Ian and John that it was absolutely trivial, I could hardly witter too much ... I did discover a useful trick. If you go through backwards (ie feed first on your front) it's phsycologically very easy, because you can't see what you're doing! Everyone else came through without any trouble. Popped down to sump 2, and then up the landing and up to the troubles. At the troubles (ducks), Gill decided that the prospect of going through all the ducks only to come straight out back through them was (a) unpleasant (b) pointless, so opted to sit and look guard the retreat. The rest of us spluttered through the 1st duck, crawled/etc to the next and through it, then decided that Gill was probably right and it was time to head out.
So back to the stream-way, through the Sump, Sam failing to get me with the rock on the head trick (I'm far to old for that Sam!), and a quick run back to the pitch. And NO QUEUE. Wow! What a trip! Let Ian, Ian or John lead out, back out via the dry was, mostly because whoever was in the lead completely failed to take the obvious way on, but never mind ... A lot of 'is this the right way? I don't know, keep going, it's bound to go somewhere' in the maze that is the dry ways, and hey presto, 'I can smell daylight'!
A brilliant trip. Fast, Warm, Wet and great fun. T/U 4.30.
Saturday night was spent in the New Inn which is MUCH nicer than the Hunters, and when the spy a 3 year old in the pub, rather than throwing you out, they give you a nice room all to yourselves! Great! Not much silly games etc happened, although apparently one of the Wessex managed to fall off the roof and break something (bony)!
I'll leave Sunday to someone else, since I didn't go caving ...
Saturday --- got dragged out of bed too early --- I think I was the last one up, and it was only 8:30am --- what is the world coming to? After much discussion it was decided there would be a Manor Farm trip (Julian, Pete, Fran, Penny, Becci & Dave H.) and a Swildons trip (Jeremy, Sam, Ian, Ian#2, Jon, Gill & Sam's rubber duck).
Swildons was quite dry as Swildons goes, Gill had a problem almost immediately by finding the water cap to the generator was missing so a hasty wooden bung was improvised, this did of course mean that Gill was doomed to have almost no light throughout the trip. Jeremy wanted to attempt the short round trip but we got to the mud sump and, as the reports go, it is in fact sumped nowadays. There was some half hearted bailing until all the dams were full --- but it still looked very much like a sump --- so back we went for a jolly through sump 1, down to sump2, up The Landing and through to Blue Pencil (almost) My rubber duck was getting cold so we decided to come out at that point. On the way out I did manage a slight detour down to Mud sump -yes, a different one --- which was muddy.
The Manor Farm trip went smoothly by all accounts except for some difficult times in the slippery chimney.
Clive and Sarah appeared in the evening having cycled in thick mist all the way from Yeovil (nutters), Clive `Insulin Junkie' George looking a bit pale upon arrival and quickly determined a packet of chocolate biscuits was required. Becci and Penny had gone parent spotting, the rest of us went en masse to the pub in Priddy. It took them a while, but the bar staff eventually spotted there was somebody even shorter than Sarah, and old enough to be Jeremy's daughter, so we got moved to the dining room for legal reasons. Some beer was drunk --- I think. Most people went to bed early (midnightish?) so it was left to me to keep up the CUCC reputation and be sociable. Interesting events happened at about 3:00 in the morning when one of the Wessex members, Max, was found at the bottom of the stairs with, what turned out to be, a badly fractured ankle --- He'd been trying to get in through an upstairs window, a trick for which he is well known --- almost everyone in the Wessex upon hearing the news commented that
'Oh well, it was only a matter of time'
Sunday --- Once again I was the last one up --- although it was half past ten this time, a slight improvement. I decided that I was not going caving unless I absolutely had to. So whilst a G.B. trip and Eastwater jolly were organised (Everyone except Jon went caving I think --- you'll have to ask someone that knows, cos I don't), I settled in to a quiet afternoon of tea drinking and typing up Kaninchenhohle cave description. About 2:30ish there was a phone call and I caught a whispered comment,
'I don't like the sound of that ... '
Another broken ankle? --- no such luck --- there was a rescue on in Swildons, with a severely hypothermic scout requiring assistance. I snapped a flashing blue light on my head, grabbed my caving gear and off I went to Swildons (AGAIN). At the entrance, things seemed quite urgent still, with the girl being unconscious, so the team I was with rocketed down to Water Chamber (where the wet and dry ways meet at the lower end of the entrance series). We'd brought some warm glucose drinks and they'd been warming her with a hot air breathing kit so by the time we'd arrived she was conscious again but still in a bad way. It's amazing how hard it was to carry one small girl through the cave passage --- It took over an hour to cover what would take a fit caver a few minutes --- I'd made the mistake of wearing a wetsuit and so got shoved in any puddle along the way and used as a dragway. Just near the entrance I met Dave Horsley and Co. who'd almost started getting changed at the Wessex after their previous trip and got despatched forthwith to come and help, although it was mostly over by then. The girl was carted off in an ambulance, but was apparently o.k.
Back at the hut, we had a quick round of tea and then started the trek back. Julian did his best to roll the bus at every roundabout we got to (we decided to go up the A4 to avoid a contra-flow on the motorway), and picked up Jo and Jo's friend --- Jo in Newbury, drop Pete and Fran off in Bicester and then... Well, a funny thing happened at the chip shop. As we were eating our chips in the bus, a bloke come up the street and looked shiftily at a house, and then started climbing the drainpipe ... what was he up to we thought? Julian shouted helpfully out the window of the bus - 'Oi, is that your house, mate?' 'Well, yes actually --- it is' says he coming down again. He then went into the chip shop --- they seemed to know him, and borrowed a step ladder that was obviously too short and spent a short amount of time wobbling about on it before giving up. We (Julian) decided that he could probably sort things out himself and beat a hasty retreat, we'd still got two hours drive to go --- the chap was last seen balancing on his porch roof hanging from a small open window through which he probably wouldn't fit.
We then proceeded on a magical mystery tour of Buckingham, Milton Keynes and Bedford city centre before arriving back at Churchill at 10:30ish pm.
walking back to the car, I was having trouble finding my car keys, Oh well - must be in my rucksack --- I waved farewell to Dave and then got to my car - Some annoying bastard had broken into it over the weekend (smashed a window) and stolen the tool box, so I was in a foul mood whilst searching through my wet caving gear for the keys which --- weren't there.
I phoned Police, and then Julian --- the keys hadn't been found in the bus. So Julian came to pick me up and wins a gold star and a pint of beer for driving me home. Having arrived home I discovered, much to my surprise that I had a spare set of car keys, so I got a lift back in to pick the car up, and finally arrived back for the second time at about 1am. It was 3:30am before I was sufficiently un pissed off that I could go to sleep. Who said the Mendips were boring !!
Quotes --- (Print these, or else!!)
'Can I borrow your stretchy things' --- Kate (Earl's neighbour)
'I think I had her on my 1st night, and I was absolutely hopeless' --- Jonathan
'If I was married to Julian (Haines), I wouldn't let him out' --- Jeremy
Disclaimer --- These quotes are taken grossly out of context! --- editor
Here's what the critics have been saying: "There are a lot of interesting books in there, including several SRT books and quite a few 'good reads' ".
Ask the porters for the key, (they still know where it is, I've just been there). Go to 'M' staircase (basically keep going straight, through the bit in the middle. Up the spiral stairs to the 2nd floor. You end up facing the Master's room. Turn left and it's just through a swing door on your right. It's the 2ND locked cupboard, don't bend the key any more in the first lock. There is a very small label saying CUCC in the lock.
It's a bit full. People should make sure they sign books out in the book on the back of the door (there are some pencils in the bottom of the boxes on the door).
(By an edited Jeremy)
That's all folks!!