Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Swansea School Trip

I just had a very bizarre, but fun, weekend away with a bunch of really random people, courtesy of meetup.com.

MeetUp is a brilliant concept – it’s a website/app you sign up to with your facebook account (in an attempt to make sure you’re a real person) that suggests lots of different groups you can join, based on your likes and hobbies.  You name it, you’ll probably find a group for it – there’s singles groups, music groups, comedy groups, sport groups, even an orgasmic meditation group! Definitely something to suit everyone!!! I have used it previously when I was in Singapore where I found a badminton group, but I have never really used it in the UK.

I joined an action adventure group and saw they were doing a weekend break in Swansea in November, for the bargain price of £149 which included 2 dinners, 2 lunches and 2 breakfasts, accommodation, 2 guided hikes and 3 yoga sessions – right up my street!  Sepha was also keen so we paid our money and drove down to The Mumbles on Friday night.

Thank God I put Sepha on the car insurance as it was a ridiculously long journey – London traffic combined with M4 diversions meant we didn’t arrive at the Swansea YHA till gone 10pm.  Misha, the tour leader, had a huge vat of warming  homemade butternut squash soup and a deli platter for us to nibble at, as well as the most delicious (and biggest!) banana cake I have ever seen. We scoffed food down then headed to bed, ready for our 7am morning yoga session.

After the morning yoga, we were given a hearty breakfast of porridge with fruit, nuts and honey, a selection of sausages, eggs and beans, and we made our packed lunches for the day ahead.

We got into the mini bus and headed out to Worm’s Head, the start and end of the day’s walk – a 20k looped hike around the coast.    Worm’s Head – historically named ‘wurm’, meaning ‘dragon’ by Viking invaders, marks the most westerly tip of the Gower coast line.  We walked along the coast line in the most whipping, cold wind I have ever experienced before heading inland, across farm land and moor land, up a hill where it started to rain and hail and the droplets stung your face, down the other side of the hill and onto Rhossili Beach – voted the world’s 9th best beach.

Rhossili Beach

The Worm's Head

Many sheep

reaching the top of the hill as the rain starts

The rain coming in across the sea


gloomy Rhossili beach

happy walkers. also my face looks like humpty dumpty here, most unflattering

The beach was littered with washed up jelly fish – huge discs of translucent blue flubbery things.  

huge jellyfish - foot for scale

huge and heavy!

Further down the beach was a piece of drift wood which was covered in the weirdest clams ever – the shells hung off the wood, connected by thick orange and brown ‘worms’ which suckered onto the wood.  Very alien like.

they look like sweets you'd get in M&S!

We finished the hike in a pub to warm up, my Karrimor boots had failed me and had been squelching about three hours  in so the warmth of the pub was greatly received!

We drove back to the YHA just in time for the next yoga session which was focussed on stretching out our legs and backs from all the walking we had just done and was very beneficial – I didn’t ache at all the next day!

We played charades with some of the members of the group before dinner was served, where we pretended to be vegetarian for the evening because a) it meant we got served first and I was super hungry and b) there was halloumi and I LOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE me some halloumi. Also on the menu was spinach and pomegranate salad, a normal salad, a cheese, mayo and garlic salad (a Russian dish), chicken tikka masala, rice, and vegetable ratatouille.  All the food was delicious and it was topped off by another homemade cake – this time a honey cake, equally as tasty as the banana one the day before.

queueing for dinner

the after 8 mint game

The weirdest part of the weekend then began to happen – we headed into the hall where a game cupboard was found and emptied – suddenly people of all ages, shapes, sizes and sexes were hula hooping round the room, playing giant jenga and table tennis and pool and dancing.  It was brilliant – I felt like I had gate crashed an old people’s home mixed with a youth centre.   The people on the trip were really nice – and it attracted such a range of people.  I would say the age range was between 25 and 65 with an even mix of boys and girls, and people from all walks of life.  There were a few oddbods in the group, one of which I am assuming had ADHD or something and was the token naughty boy of the school trip.  

she got the hang of it eventually
I slept through the next morning’s 7am yoga (oops) but had a delightful lie in before heading down for breakfast.  We then packed up the hostel (it’s very impressive – Misha brings along all his own cooking equipment and does a huge Tesco shop before the trips, so everything has to be loaded and unloaded and loaded up again each weekend – enough food and supplies for 45 people for 3 days) and drove to the start of our next hike in Reynoldstone, a shorter 12k hike in MUCH nicer weather, I was even walking in my t-shirt for some of it.  No jellyfish on this walk, however we did make friends with wild ponies.

Unfortunately my walking boots (don’t bother with Karrimor – 8 months I’ve had them!) decided to give up and the soles flapped open so the hike leader did a bit of DIY with some cable ties which seemed to help.  However bits of kit I would like to recommend are Decathlon  pants and sports bras – soooooo comfy and cheap! Oh and their technical fabric tops for £3.50 , bloody bargain!!


We ended up in another pub to finish, before driving home singing along to 90s tunes whilst getting stuck in more traffic…sigh….

The Gower peninsula is beautiful and I highly recommend a trip there if you’re into pretty scenery and walks and sheep.  Meet Up is also a brilliant way of getting out and about!

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