I’m sorry, I can’t come to the phone right now, please leave a message…

Yes, for those observant blog-obsessors, I have been away from my desk for a while now. Last week I was a leader on a Ventures camp at Stanbridge Earls, just outside Southampton. It was a Christian youth camp for 14-18 year olds, and it was absolutely fantastic! We all had a lot of fun, leaders and members alike. I arrived there last Friday, after a long 6 hour drive from Colchester (3 and a half of which were trying to get round the M25, grrr), and the kids arrived on the Saturday afternoon. It was a fun-filled, action-packed, non-stop week of worship, seminars, talks, activities, games, fun, eating, running around, getting wet, late nights and early mornings!

My duties during the week were fairly broad, as were all the leaders on the camp. I was a dorm leader, a band member, a worship leader, a seminar giver, and generally a helper in whatever was around that needed doing! It was very exhausting. The band was good fun, and we all gelled together very well from the word go, producing a very positive and tight sound, which was fantastic. Unfortunately the drummer busted his ankle on the second day, so I ended up playing drums a couple of times – it was a lot of fun actually, and I think I did rather well considering I’ve never really played publically before!

The site itself was brilliant. It’s a day and boarding school for children with learning difficulties, so we slept in reasonably comfortable beds all week and had full reign of all the facilities on site, including a large sports hall, an indoor swimming pool, a theatre, a dining room and kitchen, plenty of teaching rooms, and a large field too. The weather was very kind to us too.

The only down side to the week was that I went deaf. One of our large activities involved swimming from one end of the pool to the other, picking up a hoop from the bottom and swimming back. Not too difficult, I thought. But when I resurfaced I found myself almost completely unable to hear, and I didn’t manage to clear it for quite some time. It was actually quite frustrating, not being able to hear, as I tend to rely on hearing quite a lot, as I guess do most people. Thankfully one ear cleared just before our evening meeting, so I was able to hear what was going on – I was dreading missing all the music!

Now I’m in Torquay visiting my parents. I think I’ve caught up on most of my sleep now, and I’m enjoying being around my family and having a relaxing holiday. Sunday afternoon we all went on the beach – that was sooooo nice! I’ve missed the beach, and I’ve missed my lovely rolling hills too! I’ve also been taking the opportunity to service my Mini, as its MOT is due at the end of this month when I get back to Colchester. Having bought all the parts yesterday, this afternoon Dad and I set to work. We drained all the old oil, changed the oil filter, and filled the oil back up again, thankfully with no leaks to be seen. Then we drained the water from the system, flushed the radiator with clean water and filled it up again with 1:3 mixture of antifreeze and water, again with no leaks. Then we replaced the rocker cover gasket, which had been leaking slightly. Then came the moment of truth – I turned the key, there was a nasty clanking noise, and I turned the engine back off again… we’d moved a pipe to gain access to a clamp earlier, and forgotten to put it back, so the blades of the cooling fan had snagged on the pipe and broken off!! Ooops!! And it was all going so well, too. So I’ve now ordered a replacement fan from Mini Spares, and as soon as that arrives I shall have to get the radiator out and replace the fan. Not something I was planning on doing, but at least it’s possible to do in a day, so I shall still be able to drive to Gloucester next week to see Ellie!

Right, that had better be all from me for now. I’m aiming to be back in Colchester by the 21st August, should anyone be interested…

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