After a glorious trip around the Hungarian Parliament (the lords wing is coloured blue and the commons wing coloured red to represent the different ‘bloods’ of aristocracy and MPs!! Can similar be said for our UK parliament lords having red blood and commons having green blood?!) we jumped on the metro to jump on the train to jump on the plane. Final destination: Blackwell Adventure, near Birmingham. Despite a long walk from the minibus drop off to the finish line we still arrived too fast for the photographer to catch us (posh frocks and big bags – oh Milan and Paris will be copying our style) and had to go back and pretend to arrive again!
We were greeted by the news we were sleeping in a tent, as it started to rain! We dumped bags, prepared roll mats and sleeping bags and then wandered over to the main marquee for canapés and champers. It was good to find out about everyone else’s trips. We noticed one ankle in cast, an arm in a sling and a knee or ankle requiring crutches, and that made us appreciate the lack of injury on our trip – Lydia’s bruised foot, Harriet’s blister and Amy’s bruised bum faded in comparison! We also heard about cancelled flights, missed connections and astronomical costs – another thing we were grateful to have not experienced! There were of course elements of other people’s trips that we were jealous of, but of course are not going to mention those here – ours was clearly the best!!!! ;-)
The giving of awards was interspersed between courses of the dinner (and the free bar of chocolate in our goody bag). The categories we expected to win (particularly pre trip publicity) alas we didn’t. However we did win the “renewing your promise in a meaningful place” and “silliest hat” (this was the most important one by far I believe). Plus we did get a special mention for Chief Guides Award, but unfortunately our Mozartian snow globe bust ‘Alex’ had a twin brother brought by another team so didn’t quite top the polls. The renewing our promise was a surprise – their reasoning was that most groups had picked a place (e.g. Arctic Circle) and all renewed their promise, whereas we had interpreted it differently and were “girl led” (a key ethos of guiding of course), each of us choosing a different place most meaningful to us as individuals. Shows what brilliant guides we are following the principles to the T – we hadn’t even considered there was any other way than “girl led” individual locations! Feels strange to be recognised for doing normal! And of course the hat deserves a mention too. The creation of Rachel’s crown took place on seats 25A, B & C of Ryanairs Boeing 737-800 using a variety of train, metro and bus tickets, leftover shinny coins, and an awful lot of sellotape and staples.
Dinner eaten, awards presented, rain subsided to drizzle, and onto the grand epitome of the evening… or not. Girlguiding Midlands had prepared a grand firework display to end the celebrations. The company they had purchased said display from (who I won’t embarrass and name here) had kindly donated some extra fireworks for free. Unfortunately, the free fireworks were beautiful but short lived and the expensive ones didn’t work. Neither did the computer playing the music. But it’s ok, because guides can sing, and we’d certainly learnt a new selection of songs whilst away!
Absolutely exhausted and still on continental time zone we headed to our tent and enjoyed our free sleeping bags. The next morning was rather sombre, doing our final pack and heading off to the train station one last time. Voices coarse from all the shouting and singing last night, exhausted from 14 days worth of public transport, the final stages of travel were sadly upon us. Talks of reunions in Brussels (Katie’s destination for third year of uni) or Taiwan for Jamboree started to perk things up… watch this space for the next adventure!