In a further update about one of the unit's more celebrated members, a now very distinguished looking Dan Wright is one of the keynote speakers at TEDx Jamal's conference "Explore and Extract", taking place on 21st March 2020 in Rabibhawan Kathmandu.
Here's what the TEDxJamal people say by way of introducing Dan ...
Dan Bahadur Wright was born in the UK. Whilst completing a degree in the late 1990s in Outdoor and Environmental Education he served the British Army Reserves in Liverpool for 4 years. Following this, Dan travelled and worked as an adventure guide and experiential education trainer in North America, the UK, the French Alps, India, Nepal and the Middle East. In 2008, Dan moved full time to the UAE to work on setting up Student Citizenship Program in high schools to prepare for their National Service which started in 2014. Whilst in the UAE, Dan kept an apartment in Kathmandu and travelled once in a month for adventure, sports and relaxation. In one of these trips he met Nirjala Tamrakar who was the then Nepal Mountain Biking National Champion. In 2011, they got married in Nepal and settled in the UAE where their son Percival was born. After living for 8 years in the Middle East, Dan and his family returned to live in Nepal in 2016. They invested in variety of outdoor and adventure businesses. Dan pursued to work in disaster relief with a Texas based charity. Following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, he was mostly based in and around Sindulpalchowk working with WASH and housing programs. In 2017, Dan joined Chandragiri Hills Ltd. His work visa was issued by the Ministry of Labor as a Special Projects Consultant. Also in 2017 his daughter Aurora was born in Kathmandu. Dan works in a range of areas for Chandragiri including their adventure activities and natural history projects. Dan also acts as the General Training Instructor and delivers sessions in business development and human development.
Throughout the last 22 years of living in and out of Nepal, Dan has developed a deep love for the Nepali culture and for the innovation and pioneering spirit of the small start-ups and social entrepreneurs who are so abundant now. He has worked extensively mentoring these organizations and will be sharing his experiences in Nepal with us at TEDxJamal. What he has learned from those experiences are worth exploring which might be helpful for our future endeavors.
We wish Dan success with his presentation!
Keep in touch with Dan via Facebook & LinkedIn -
News of a Venturer from the 1980s - Rich Kerswell returned today as Guest of Honour at School Speech Day & Prize Giving.
Currently lecturing in the School of Mathematics at the University of Bristol, Professor Kerswell has been made a Fellowship of the Royal Institute for his extensive research into Fluid Dynamics.
Click here for the Speech Night article, an extract from The Richian December 2015.
Recently caught up with Andy Clifford, who is still venturing strongly! His inspiring article is a must-read for anyone pondering life choices and no apologies made for reproducing here in full.
Andy writes ....
Most recent face to face Venture contact I've had was when Tim Andrews came out to NZ for a visit. Also had a few chats with Dan Wright via the dreaded facebook, and of course there's Clifford junior who is now married and living in the Lake District working for Cotswold Outdoor in Keswick. No doubt you see the photo credits for Oli 'copywright Getty Images' Scarff in every paper you pick up! He's getting married up in the Lakes next September so no doubt I'll be back in the country for that.
I've attached an article that I wrote on my most recent travels which you are welcome to pass on to any who may be interested. It serves as a bit of a catch up with what I've been up to.
I'm writing this at 33,000 feet, travelling at 500 mph towards San Francisco. I'm reflecting on three liberating months spent in the USA and I find myself trying to trace the origin of my dreams that have put me on this plane. In this instant I'm taken back to wintery Wednesday night meetings at the 44th Venture Scout Unit scout hut. I'm remembering congregating with fresh-faced friends, who I still catch up with to this day, 18 face-weathering years on. I'm remembering getting excited about 'getting out there' and 'doing things'.
This is the end of a trip where the importance of getting out there and doing things has reasserted itself as the main driver of my life's direction. This is not to say I've spent the last 18 years indoor doing nothing. In fact it definitely doesn't take a forensic expert to trace my heavy carbon footprint trail around the globe. I've explored Europe, Indonesia, Australia and the USA and have spent the last decade calling New Zealand home, with occasional forays into icy Antarctica.
Those Wednesday nights with fellow Ventures and the passion and patient guidance of inspiring leaders like Frank Henderson and Phil Brown undoubtedly influenced my tendency to always be seeking the 'out there'. Combined with Dave Green's infectious introduction to the world of rocks, Ventures gave me a great path to set off on this journey. "A" levels led to a geology degree at Oxford, which led to a round the world trip and an amazing opportunity for field research in Antarctica. This in turn spawned a move to New Zealand for a Masters degree and an interest in climate change and the clean green world of renewable energy. Shifting from academia, curiosity to discover the 'real world' saw me begin work for an engineering consultancy whose niche was hydro-electric dams and wind farms. I was quickly exposed to the business world of dollars and cents that formed the backdrop to my ideals. These same dollars and cents were exciting after several years' immersion in the student economy! However, about two and a half years ago, while 'out there' on an overseas secondment for this company, I realised that my real dream was to explore 'getting out there' in the true sense; questioning traditional career pathways, seeking personal development and wanting to see more of the natural world.
My realisation caused me to re-evaluate where I was at, and in the midst of global recession I made the decision to quit my secure, reasonably well-paid engineering job and embark on some 'off-trail' life travel. This is a decision I am extremely glad to have made. With my new-found freedom and the backing of a few years of savings, I decided to pursue a long-standing goal of carrying out a big self-supported wilderness expedition. Six months later my I completed the "Sierra High Route", a 190+ mile hike above treeline along the crest of California's Sierra Nevada mountain range. Fulfilling my dream and revisiting the excitement of those early Venture Scout expeditions, I knew that this was an experience I wanted to hold on to and share at least the essence of with others.
Since then, I've resolved to make the out there' my office and the 'doing things' the product of whatever business I'm involved in. I've subsequently spent the last two years gaining experience in the outdoor industry; guiding people on multi-day walks in New Zealand's National Parks, managing that same business, and learning the importance of developing good working relationships with all interested parties. I've also followed up on a growing passion for the idea of experiential outdoor education, beginning with participation in a 21-day Outward Bound Masters Programme. This lead was the basis for my present trip, on which I've completed an Instructor's Course for the US-based National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). The induction meeting for this course involved the course leader outlining the NOLS mission to be the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership that serves people and the environment. He summarised this by saying "we get out there and do things."
I am now qualified to work for NOLS and believe I have found an institution with core values that I relate to strongly and where I will have the opportunity to carry on growing and learning. However, I am aware, through years of outdoor experiences that began on Wednesday evening s at the scout hut, that anything can happen on this off-trail 'road less travelled'. Whether or not this is the start of a long and fulfilling career with NOLS, I rest assured knowing that I am committed to getting out there and doing things, and that my focus from here on in will be encouraging others to do the same.
Thank you 44th VSU for being the trail head to this journey. May many more lifelong adventures begin on a winter evening at the Scout Hut!
For further details on National Outdoor Leadership School see: www.nols.edu
For photos from my NOLS Instructor Course see: NOLS IC photos
By the way: another Venture, Dan 'Mad Dog' Wright also qualified as a NOLS Instructor for their Himalaya white water rescue programme a few years back.
Some welcome news arrived from 'down under' from one of the "gorillas in the mist" (remember the 1999 Dartmoor trip and that misty ascent of Yes Tor when compasses pointed south instead of north??) Perran Spear writes ...
I thought I really should make time to let you know what I have been up to recently. I got married in May 2009 and Kelly my wife and I moved to Townsville in February 2010. We both work for Golder Associates as Geologists. It is fantastic down here, the climate is tropical so the summer has a wet season with torrential rain, but May to November is like a beautiful summer's day. We can't swim in the water in the wet season because of tropical stingers but they have nets to keep you safe. There are also a fair few crocodiles around but they mainly stick to the creeks. We are on the great barrier reef with fringing reef on the islands in the bay. I have attached a few photographs from our first year.
I hope all is well with the 44th (Explorer?) Unit. I have a lot of good memories from my time at Tommies, most of them from the Venture Scouts. I hope the unit is still going strong.
Great to hear from one of the unit's legends, especially the photographic evidence of his new life and job in Oz (see below)
Many congratulations on your marriage, Perran, we wish you and Kelly every happiness for the future!!
Perran at work
Perran and Kelly
Some of the neighbourhood fauna!
A welcome visitor to Oakleaze this month was Paul Kingsbury, who we grabbed to make a presentation to Freddie Speed, captain of the school's U16 Badminton team, that won the Gloucestershire schools league this year - see photo left.
Paul is now residing in Vancouver, Canada, where he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia. Needless to say Paul spent a lot of time in deep conversation with Mr Alan Pilbeam, he old geography mentor, who had also popped back into school for the final assembly and awards.
Paul would dearly like to make contact again with his old Venture buddies, especially those who shared the adventures of the Norway 1990 Expedition, namely Matt Wilton, Brad Salter and Mike Cheshire.
The 44th's great adventurer, Dan Wright, is still living life to the full and recently sent to the school library a signed copy of the book of his shared Indian camel adventures, written by fellow adventurer and friend Jim Wiltens.
We strongly recommend the book - it is a great read and gives good insight into the desert regions of Northern India and the lives of the people who inhabit and eke out their daily existances there.
The book is called: "Camels, Skulls and Cobras - A wild ride across India" , written by Jim Wiltens and published by Deer Crossing Press, Redwood California. ISBN 978-0-938525-09-7
Spotted by the ESL at the Fortun M6 motorway service (where all the best people meet!) returning from a wet (as always?!) climbing trip to the Lakes - none other than Chris Smith. Good to see you Chris! Glad to hear your still fruitfully employed in the music business - pity the old trombone arm isn't seeing much exercise though!
An exciting and rewarding project has been demanding Matt Key's attention these past 18 or so months - Having decided that kids work, rather than geography, was for him, he headed out to the Northern Caucasus to work in a Christian run trauma counselling centre for those caught up by the violence in Chechnya. His initial introduction to one 11 year old was at the wrong end of a semi-automatic weapon the boy had gleaned from recent fighting in the region!
Much of Matt's time has been spent teaching English, learning Russian, eating, gardening and doing DIY. And trying to grow a beard!
During the summer 2006 Matt had teamed up with that marmalade-loving character Rich Holland on an expedition retracing the steps of Victorian explorer Colonel Joseph Thomson through the High Atlas mountains of Morocco. You can read all about their escapades ("An Old Boy Adventure") in the 2006 edition of "The Richian" pages 4,5 and 6.
Well Sam Coe has now been out in Guyana for just over 6 months. We've had a couple of letters, several e-mails and even a few poems(!). Below are a few extracts from his latest epistles from the South American jungles. If you wish to follow up some of Sam's poems and see some of his photographs, then visit www.samcoe.deviantart.com
Yes I am still alive!
Well quite a lot has happened since the last time an email of this nature was sent. Term 1 is finished. That's a pretty big one! I now teach Forms 3, 4, and 5 (Years 9, 10 and 11) so that's made my life "interesting" - I had to spent the first 3 weeks of taking over 4 and 5 sifting thought the syllabus trying to work out what needed to be done and what was finished. Two of my Form 5 tried to cheat in the Christmas exams but got caught hilariously owing to the fact that their handwritings are completely different, "But Sir, I did it and just asked Marlyn to copy it out for me." Oh yeh, sure! Pull the other one! Quotes come in thick and fast from HM Nigel's "Rachel, you're reducing in size it's good" to Jess's "So a boys' locker room would be like a mosquitoes wet dream!" lol
Rachael Pennington I was about to disown you! I couldn't believe how long it took you to write to me! (not forgetting you Mr Hayes! Come on what's the deal :oP) thank you again to everyone who has written, and I hope you liked your replies. Enormous thanks to unlikely hero Pete who saved me from musiclessness by sending 3 DVDs with music on! Not forgetting of course the old faithfuls - Adam, Sam and Robin! Robin yours flaked apart in the post, so I was wondering ..... Could you send it again *flutters eye lids* because I need some really LOUD music to listen to!
Sam, Robin, Rach I haven't replied yet because I want to send you packages which I can't do from here so I have to wait till I get to town. YMCA please accept my apologies for not writing - it's for the same reason I wanted to send you all a Christmas present but need to get to town to send it. I just wanted you to know I'm not an ungrateful little so and so.
My aliments have cleared up but the weight I lost when I was ill has not really returned, so I'm looking abit thin at the moment :o(
I got paid! My first pay packet was $84000 Guyanese of course which is around £240 so that was nice, although about a third of it went straight away on paying off accounts! Still if your careful you don't need to spend more than about $5000 a month (past the $15000 for food and stuff)
We had a thanks giving party courtesy of the Americans which was so good; proper feast, chicken, potatoes, stuffing, and of course next day cold sandwiches! The four of us (white peeps) have bought a canoe for about $5000 each so once the river is high then off we go! Since it's been raining a lot our shower started working, well I say shower i'ts more like a dribbler but there you go, better than a bucket.
I've got to know some really good people since coming here, a few just to mention:
Wanita - our neighbor mother of 7(!) who is infinity generous and kind.
Uncle Bunny – or "grandfather" he is so interesting to talk to and many a happy wasted afternoon is spent at his shop just chatting about life and so.
Auntie Minerva – she bakes the nicest bread in the village and always treats us at the market to sample her food. We are all her "angels" and Steph became her "Barbie" when shes came a few weekends back.
Donnell – a teacher at the school with a passion for dancing, cooking and is just genuinely nice, Rach and I hang out with her a lot.
Dwarte – cocky self assured homophobic guy who used to teach but defected to GECom (Guyana Elections Commission) he loves to talk about himself (Phil anyone :oP)
For Christmas I am going with some other vols to Tobago to go swimming, bike riding sunbathing, etc... Other travel plans at the moment include: at Easter Kaiter Falls and Lethem Rodeo. Summer, shell beach, maybe Bartica then onto Peru via and 8-day bus ride! There is also a place here called Adventure so I must get to there at some point.
Umm trying to think what else has happened :oS but I can't think of anything too important I've missed.
So.... its request time... :oD friends, family more letters are always welcome. Thursdays are cheered up by the addition of mail! So write me a letter, send me a card, photo, CD I don't care what it is, and I'll write back as soon as I can!
Parents I didn't ask you for things for a joke you know! It's because I need them. So again I am requesting, cobber, bed sheet, and tracksuit bottoms. However the next addition is a book that's in my room called the "Tao Te Ching" its about A5 size and on the desk opposite the computer in my room I think. Also if you see it around please could you by me the "Art of War" by Sun Tzu I think. O yeh and the second Harry Potter book, because we have finished the 1st one with the kids at the dorms (I was reading it to them at night), and a copy of New Scientist or something would be nice ..... Ok so begging over, thats mi done till next time.
Mi glad mi not getting a next banner carry dis email home boi
Later ya ere!
A welcome e-mail arrived to update us on Jody Ballard's recent happenings .....
In a competition at work to establish who was the most popular on the internet we all decided to Google our names. Much to my surprise not only had my current job got me ranked quite high but so had my past - the 44th Glos VSU.
On a dreary February morning as I write about beach lifeguarding and children's understanding of safety messages it put a huge smile on my face to see you had gone back to Ireland where I had gone for my final expedition and my Gold Award expedition. As a brief note I will be going back in 2007 to walk/bike around the same area for a week or two.
So what have I been up to? I now live in Cardiff and work for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution as their Regional Education Officer for Wales, West Midlands & the Isle of Man (just a small patch then)! I taught geography in various schools in the South Wales area after completing my Geology degree and PGCE in Geography before starting for the RNLI in 2003. I thoroughly enjoy the work I do and the organisation I work for is very unique and does an amazing job, most of which I was unaware of when I started with them. Over the years I have always been involved in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme firstly as a participant through the 44th VSU, then setting it up or running it at two schools and now finally in my current role we offer people the chance to do their Service section; had I never enjoyed the experience as much as I did with the 44th VSU I doubt I would be so interested in DofE today.
In my spare time I am still a keen swimmer though have not competed in swimming or waterpolo since leaving Uni. Mr Lloyd will be so shocked to read this next bit! I also enjoy running (hated it at school with a vengeance) running in races throughout the South Wales area, including a respectable 1hr 50min in my first half-marathon and aiming to better it this year. As my job constantly puts me by the sea I love all aquatic sports and in 2005 Tim Andrews and Phil Reid taught me to surf in Portugal.
So what does the future hold? Lifeboats for the foreseeable future, a trip to New York and walks up Snowdon, Cadair & Pen-y-Fan in 2006 along with surfing lessons, more Coasteering and enjoying myself as much as possible.
Hope you are all well back in Glos!
Perhaps we can persuade Jody to come back one Friday and give the current memebrs an overview of the RNLI? Maybe even get us ride on one of their boats??
News from Leicester - and Jon Ellison who is at University there and doing exciting things with SLUGS! I'll leave him to explain ....
I've been a tad busy in Leicester this year. I finished my tenure as chair of SLUGS (the university Scout & Guide society) last February in preparation for a year at uni in France (long story involving rude French people, slum accomodation and being made to sit my first year again in French rather than chosing what modules to do as was advertised...)
In between that was Eurojam which was probably one of the best experiences of my life! Three weeks camping in Highlands Park, Essex on the International Service Team. My main job was being part of the team running the "Communications centre" - the glorified day care service consisting of Internet Café and payphones that didn't work. As well as fielding questions from enraged leaders because the company providing voice over IP messed up.
Overall it was fabulous, camping with 20 people from the Student Scout And Guide Organisation I even managed to find Colin Steward from the year beneath me on site. Couple of pictures attached from various peoples cameras/phones - I've lost the one of the V festival stages all decked out for the IST party at the moment, but found the one of my marquee at work and the other's me after the participants had gone (the airbed's not mine!)
Scarily, I've just realised that some of the members coming into the 44th
now wouldn't have even been at Rich's when I left, but it doesn't seem five
minutes ago I did ......
Best wishes to you all!
Well shortly after Dave Clifford's e-mail guess who shows up at school today? Why Andrew Clifford of course and in tow Oli Scarff and Phil Reid. It was great to see the guys again and catch up on the news - Senior Badminton took care of itself!
Andy is touring GB with his fiancée (a Kiwi lass - wedding bells next year some time I gather!) before returning to further his Antarctic studies. He modestly told me all about the extinct volcano he discovered under the ice sheet he has been studying. Oli has joined the ranks of the paparazzi - working for an agency: he gets a call and location and off he goes to meet impossible deadlines for the nationals. Frequently he gets no background information which often leads to hairy situations - recently a job earned him a close shave at a secret military establishment. Phil Reid is working locally in Gloucester and brought news of Tim Andrews who is experiencing the tough side of teaching working with special needs youngsters in Bristol (tales of demolished classroom furniture are probably exaggerated!)
Another blast form the past - John Barnes (c.1975) with limp from achilles operation(s) was spotted at Oakleaze supporting his son's efforts on the rugby field.
Further news from Sam Coe who e-mailed .....
Well one week in and I am still really hot - not as hot as before it has to be said but still hot none the less. We have been so bored this week, filling in forms and stuff. Everything takes aaaaaggggggggeeeeeesssssss ............ if you want to buy somthing it takes a good 20mins with all the differnt people you have to see!
I leave for my project tomorrow morning - Georgetown is nice but really busy and being white is well interesting ... you stick out really badly and all the bus drivers whistle at you. Also the worst thing is that I start teaching on Monday morning!!! We have been told not to expect pupils for the first week, so hopefully that will give me time to get everything sorted and get to know the place.
The buses have inspirational quotes on the front like 'Dr. Goodlooks', 'Money's like sex - some get it some don't', and such like.
Well my 20mins is nealy up and Kala (my host) wants us to leave so I'll say goodbye for now, but will see you all soon; stay healthy, work hard, have fun, and don't forget to email me back! lol hope all you stuff goes well, l8ers guys
Steph has subsequently e-mailed an update saying that Sam has arrived safely at his school and is teaching years 2 and 3 maths. He's slightly disappointed about not getting any science but is loving the area and the friendly people.
I have his address - he'd welcome any mail!
A welcome e-mail arrived from Dave Clifford in New Zealand with picture proof that brother Andrew is still alive and kicking, albeit rather shaggy in appearance!
It's Dave Clifford here! I have been in New Zealand now for the past year and am about to return to good old blighty in a couple of weeks. I have been working at the most amazing lodge in the rainforest at the edge of the Southern Alps and only 10mins kayak from the sea.
The job's a bit tedious, mainly waitering and bar work, but I have been doing a bit of kayak and walking guiding which has been really good. And I am only about an hour away from the mountains so have been doing a fair bit of climbing as well.
I haven't much planned for when I return apart from I think I have a job as senior sales at the outdoor shop Kathmandu in London ... hopefully anyway! I am in the process of arranging a trip to climb Aconcagua in Argentina in Febuary 2006, so hopefully that will work out well.
I have just checked out the website and it's really good, brought back loads of good old memories (glad the hut looks the same as ever!!!)
Say 'Hi' to everyone I know there and hopefully catch up soon.
I have attached a few photos of my area in NZ ... the wild man in the shot above is brother Andy!
Sam Coe has just e-mailed in his safe arrival in British Guyana where he is taking a Gap Year to teach in what only can be described as a "truly rural" location. He writes ...
Hello all! Have arrived in Guyana - it is really, really hot; sweating too much and just far too hot. Leaving for my project in a few days; still in the capital, went swimming today in a massive creek. Well can't really think of anything else to say apart from look after yourselves, all of you. And make sure you email me as much as I email you lot!!
We wish him well ... and hope he soon acclimatises to the high humidity and heat!
Having got over missing his camels, Dan Wright has been busy down in the Forest of Dean setting up a survival school - ABC Survival. Some of his first "guinea-pigs" were from the unit, a group of our year 9 members who stopped over on their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh expedition. They were shown how rig up a simple but effective overnight shelter, build and light a fire, collect and cook some basic foodstuffs from the immediate woodland. We wish Dan and his co-director Gavin Jones every success in their new venture.
For futher information log onto www.abc-survival.co.uk
Adam Griffiths BEng MIEE is now working for Sula Systems Ltd of Wotton-under-Edge as a Systems Consultant having graduated from the University of Plymouth with a degree in Electronic Engineering. The company has prime contracts with the defence and space industries as well as undertaking research projects. Adam has taken expertise to the company in the areas of Audio Visual, Real-time Microprocessors & Hardware systems.
Adam has officially become an assistant explorer scout leader for the 44th aiding Phil Brown and Pete Lloyd with the running of the unit. He holds qualifications for mountain leadership and climbing instruction as well as his nights away permit for overnight camps. Has now completed the Duke of Edinburgh trilogy by obtaining the Gold award.
Dan Wright is currently somewhere in Northern India with his friend Jim Wiltens and 4 camels. Having arrived in India at the end of August, they set about purchasing camels and the necessary equipment for their Caravan of Light expedition.
The plan is to ride the camels from Bikaner, India, through Kathmandu, Nepal, and over the Himalayas to Lhasa Tibet. During the course of this 1400 mile expedition they have prepared for many things, including camel blessings, monsoons, malarial mosquitoes, cobras, tigers, yetis, Maoist rebels, and sub-zero mountain passes.
Follow their progress by clicking on the Caravan of Light link.
A post card from Matt Key ...
Back in Iceland again!
Sorry I didn't get to see you all before I left. Weather has been good but non-stop rain today. Our camp is just off to the right, 4km away - no toilets or water! Dissertation going well but measuring pebbles get tedious after a while! (Didn't I do that for GCSE?) Views make up for it. Two weeks left.
Hope Orkney trip is amazing! See you on return.
Best Wishes, Matt.
The view is of the gacial-river-lagoon Jökulsárlón.
Well ... look who's turned up at Oakleaze! It's Tim Andrews. Poor boy, he can't be well .... he's seriously contemplating teaching as a worthwhile career and arrived at STRS this week for a "taster" amongst the Geography department. Hmmm ... Good Luck Tim!
Hope you can let us have a feedback of your experiences!
Apologies for the old photograph - makes you look a bit younger though!
Some welcome news arrived at the break of the new year from Andy Clifford on the McMurdo Ice Shelf, Antarctica. He writes ....
It's been a long time since I.ve been in touch but a day of blowing snow camped out on the ice shelf is the perfect time to catch up!
I'm still based out in Dunedin, New Zealand doing a Geology Masters and although motivation is limited at times(!) I'm loving the experience. I'm researching the history and future of one of Antartica's ice shelves which has given me 3 seasons of fieldwork on the great white continent. It's a spell-binding place - I'll have to do a slide show when I'm next back in Glos - probably not for another year.
Wishing you all a happy Christmas!
Several unit 'old-boys' have looked in on us so far this term:
Matt Key gave an interesting talk with superb slides of his part in a geography field research project in Iceland - something to do with glaciers, super-cooled water and Bjørk.
Dan 'Mad-Dog' Wright's return from climbing in the Yosemite was celebrated by lighting fires backwoods style and making burnt offerings (sausages on sticks!).
Geoff Coombs brought back tales of his Amazing Amazonian Adventure ....
.... but refused to tell all about his mosquito bites.
Adam Griffiths returned from Manurewa New Zealand with greetings from a kindred VSU. He has just about wrapped up his Gold Duke of Edinburgh award and shortly will receive his Scout "Form M" Authorisation.
Even Rich Holland put in an appearance clutching a jar of Italian marmalade - empty of course!
We also heard news of Paul Kingsbury (1990-93) who had received his PhD in Geography from Kentucky University. Congratulations Paul!
A card from Iceland! Bringing news of Matt Key no less. Has he been kidnapped by Icelandic trawler-men? Or gone searching for Ronja in Nordkapp and been blown off course? The reverse tells all ....
Having a fantastic time in Iceland, enjoying the rock, ice, rain and wind! Haven't yet managed to take this photograph yet, but the potential is their! (His spelling - tsk, tsk! What happened to that grammar school education!)
So far we have made two (almost) new scientific discoveries and mapped a load of streams. Tomorrow I get a day off and will climb a local peak for a better view of the floodplain.
After the project I look set (bus ticket prices aside) to whale watch, see some waterfalls and explore Rekjavik. Very nice place - different from Norway : less pretty girls but better ice!"
Now does he mean that the girls are not as pretty as the ones he met in Norway or that there are fewer pretty girls - hmmm!
News of the Cliffords - Andy is still based in New Zealand and will be continuing his Antartic visits for a few months more. Dave we are informed is still in Southampton. Get in touch guys and fill in some details!
Adam Griffiths has also been in contact from New Zealand - his family having emigrated there earlier in the year. He will be returning to the UK in August to complete his university course at Plymouth and is looking forward to doing more activities with the 44th!
Queen Scouts Adam Griffiths, Matthew Key & Rachael Brown - pictured right - are now away from home. Matt is at St Catherine's Oxford studying Geography, Rachael is at Liverpool John Moores studying Forensic and Biomolecular Sciences, while Adam has just left the UK to go to New Zealand with his family who have eventually been granted their residency papers there. He will be returning in the summer to continue his Electronics degree at Plymouth University.
Matt & Rachael attended the 2003 Queens Scout reception at Misarden House to collect their certificates (Adam had managed to get to the Guildhall Reception in London last October to receive his). They were joined by Will Godwin who had belatedly been awarded Queen Scout status.
For more info see Unit News pages
Rich Holland surprised us by mailing a postcard and a couple of hastily scrawled notepad sheets from his 'winter retreat' in Barletta on the north Adriatic coast of Italy. He writes ......
"OK - Barletta:
It's gorgeous! For the first week or so we swam regularly in the sea. However it's now as cold as in England - I guess the wind's coming from across the Adriatic. We have no heating and so our summer holiday flat is very cold! The town is beautiful; cathedral castle and medieval quarter with winding streets and cobbled lanes. There's also a 15 foot tall bronze statue of a Byzantine emperor and dozens of churches. Generally I'm in my element! Also the coffee shops are out of this world - we have fresh cappuccinos more or less every day. Haven't had that much pizza though!
Our work however is strictly limited since we don't speak much Italian. The girls (the three other team members - Solveig, Serena & Roz) all play instruments in the band but I don't. What do I do I hear you ask? Well … very little!! I'm generally just here and available to do anything - you could say I'm a practical handyman!! How bizarre - Mr Impractical himself!! I've been the sound man, the photocopier person, the DIY guy. But I think I'll benefit much more than I could possibly give. Which has led to a strange feeling .. of guilt!! Oh well, never mind.
A final thought. This six months simply won't get much - if any - opportunity to get into good countryside and explore. I'll miss the mountains etc more than just about anything else.
I hope Gloucester is nice (for a change!). Say 'Hi!' to everyone from me. Richard"