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Exciteable descriptions of a new life living in "The Best Place on Earth". The new template is more basic, more classy, tidier... so totally not me! 

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Monday, June 06, 2005

9:31 a.m. - Dark Playcees

Grumpy posted this little gem on his underground activities last week and it inspired me to write of my fun and games in Mid Wales in 1995. As a climber – one accustomed to going UP – OUTDOORS – I was not over-exited about caving but back then I was a "youth" and I was lucky enough to join one of the Engineering Council’s "youth" programs for a weekend of team-building, leadership, goal-setting, drinking, playing silly games and generally being filthy. Much fun.

On aforementioned debauchery, we were encouraged to talk about our weaknesses, set some goals, be honest about how much booze we’d taken from the mini bar and come out of it all having achieved something – all in a Georgian mansion in mid Wales. On day 3 we were to focus on what we were bad at. I must’ve been wise at some point in my life because I said I was weak at taking a back-seat role and being told what to do – being a team person instead of a leader. So, for the trip to the caves, I was a lacky – not a leader.

In our groups of 8 we had to perform 7 out of 10 appointed tasks and at least 6 people in the group had to perform the task for it to be deemed successful. The tasks were various holes, wriggles, plunges etc with great names like “Letterbox”, “Toothpaste tube”, “the River” etc. I’m sure there should’ve been a “Sphincter” but there wasn’t.

We were duly kitted out in coveralls, wellies, a hard hat and gloves and given the instructions that everything we did was our own making. The instructors (one with each team) would not intervene in any way, except to show us to the entrance of the caves and to stop us from doing anything dangerous (I mean REALLY dangerous). There’s dark playcees in them theer caves.

So, us being the organized team that we were, under the leadership of Tim (out there to improve his leadership skills), decided to knock off our first task straight away by choosing an entrance to the cave that was on the task list. We walked past the 100 ft high gaping chasm that was the main entrance (complete with tourists in trainers and flip-flops) and scrabbled up a grassy hillside where the instructor pulled apart two clumps of grass, pointed to the ground and said, “there’s your entrance that you chose”. Whimper!

I looked past the person in front of me (in my new submissive role at the back with the nice, tall, blonde haired guy) and couldn’t help myself saying, “I don’t think my arse will get through there”. I took a chance though and was pleased to say, I was skinnier than I imagined. Actually, I could see the hole, about body diameter, then there was a rock in the way which narrowed that hole to about 8 inches. However, if you stood on the in-the-way-rock then you could get on your knees and extrude yourself around that rock to touch down on the path below. WRIGGLE.

The letterbox was fun. We commando crawled through a chamber that was too low to crawl on hands and knees but left reasonable clearance for shoulders, elbows and head. It terminated in a drop off of around 4.5 feet. Since my legs were completely stretched out in the chamber with no room to bend up or turn over, my upper body bent down at the hips and I had to rely on the instructor and one other team member outside the hole to hold up my upper body and pull my legs out behind me.

In the Toothpaste Tube we crawled in the same position but as we went further and further along the chamber got lower and lower and closer and closer. In the end I had about 1 cm to move my head up and down in between my hard hat touching the roof and my chin touching the floor and about 3 inches to either side of my elbows. For a tall person it was mightily scary actually. I’ve been more scared on climbs but it was a different type of scared. It wasn’t an, “I might die now” feeling, it was an, “I could die here eventually but it’d take a long, depressing time” feeling.

Another task was the Plungepool in which 4 women (including me of course and my love of cold wet places) and 2 very brave boys walked 20 ft in icy cold water up to our nipples whilst the other two boys stood by the side and whimpered and held their bits in empathetic pain.

The only other place I felt scared was when we had completed all our tasks, we were having so much fun we decided to head out of the caves via another task and crawled up “the River”. This crawling was hands and knees stuff but there still was only just enough room to make the motions – this time though, a stream in full Mid-Walean spate was roaring in the other direction and, as the one at the back – still following the cute blonde who turned out to have a nice ass too – I spent the entire time, not looking at his ass, nor worrying about him farting but concentrating on not being swept back into the depths by the excessive quantities of water channeling themselves into my wellies. It was like a John Waterhouse scramble but without the proper gear or the daylight!
Still, there’s something about peeling off a sodden set of coveralls, the GREAT noise that wellies make when you take them off after they’ve been filled with water and a dry fluffy towel accompanied by a cup of flask coffee in all its nastiness that fills the heart with glee and makes you so relieved that you didn’t wet yourself in the “Toothpaste tube” that you want to come back and do it all again some day. Maybe.

Anonymous Silver Lining said...

See, all that elegant and evocative description and it was only when you got to the bit that says "It was like a John Waterhouse scramble" that I really had to hold on to my sphincter.

We need John W stories, I think!  

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