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November 2006
Wales Training Weekend
The next day we launched ourselves into various team building exercises. The first, a communication exercise, translating lego shapes and colours across a divide and trying to replicate the original model using verbal communication only. The next exercise I was appointed 'Shepherd' of my flock of 5 sheep (actually 5 blindfolded team members) and from a stationary point whistle them into a pen. It must have been a sight to behold what with me whistling loudly, sometimes on my knees in frustration, as 2 blindfolded sheep started wandering off in the wrong direction at the same time !! Lastly it was the spiders web exercise, hard to explain but see photo to right (picking up our fellow team members and pushing them through a hole in a web without touching the web itself). All quite a laugh but still fairly competitve. My team came 3rd (out of 3 !!). The weekend was over and we'd all succeeded in getting to know each other a bit better and had some laughds along the way.
Sheep, Spiders and Lego
Our first official training weekend was held in a campsite in a Welsh village called LLanbedr in the Black Mountains. This was where we got to spend some time with all of the other competitors. I wasn't too sure what to expect. I guess I was a little worried that there would be many hardy types who'd been in training for years. We met in the local village pub . Some had been there a while judging by the convivial mood everyone was in. I'd imagined they'd all be tucked up in their beds by 10 pm preparing for the early start and the long days walk ahead but thankfully they were a fun bunch and by 11pm we were standing on chairs singing some of the old classic rugby songs ! (see picture on right)

Payback time in the morning as a few groans and belches were heard from the breakfast tent !! I joined up with the other 'individuals' and the plan was to practise our navigation and trek 25km round a pre-set route within an allocated time.
None of us were really that experienced with the gps but could it be that hard ?? It wasn't , but the route to our first waypoint was interesting; walking 'as the crow flies' via bushes, barbed-wire fences and up steep slopes !! Luckily after this first point it was plain sailing as the path was clearly marked from there on in. The weather was a mixed bag but got to experience all of 2 minutes of a snow dusting. Not quite Arctic conditions !!
North Pole Dancing !
Mmmm ....not really to do with the North Pole as such but I was invited to a session of the new fitness craze of "Learning how to dance using a pole" . Sue , my very good friend, suggested it might be a bit of fun to dress up in in the Arctic kit and take some photos whilst draped round a pole to use on the site. Well I knew the photos would look ridiculous but I'm afraid they are just way too embarrassing to put on this site !! But anyone that wants a laugh at my expense, donate 25 or more to my charities and I'll consider a private deal !
climb up the sunshine mountain
stopping for refreshments on hillside
climbing through the spiders web
Gabrielle Finn - Polar Challenge 2007