Sunday, 12 July 2015

Me and a Map!


Hi everyone,

Typing this at the "Map & Navigation" course at the end of the first day.  It's about 10pm and it's been a good day.

I was underway at just after 6am and driving to Tatura by 6:40.  It would have been sooner but the coffee machine got a blocked nozzle, causing it to spill coffee out everywhere and making a royal mess I had to clean up.

Anyway, I drove to Tatura and picked up Madi from her place.  We went up to the shed and picked up the unit's Transport, then drove to Ross' place to pick him up.

The camp is just on the Benalla side of Greta, up in the hills.  It's beautiful country up here, fresh, hilly and green.  The course itself is at premises that are a school camp most of the time, so I've been having flashbacks to primary school (= elementary school)!

Members have come to the course from all over the place - Cobram, Alexandra, Yackandandah and Euroa for four.  Some I've met before, and some not.  You always seem to make new friends in orange overalls!

We've covered a bunch of material today and ended with practical navigation across the hills and gullies out the back of the camp.  I have to say, I find navigation oddly intellectually satisfying, as if it's a set of ideas my brain has a knack for.

Food is up to SES's usual high standard: I don't think you could ever lose weight in this service!

The day ended with about half a dozen of us shooting hoops in the little recreational court.  Felt good to be active and enjoying it, and among friends.

The weathers not as cold (yet) as we'd been warned.  I can't check the up to date forecast up here (no mobile access).  Feels kind of good to be off the grid for a while (says the man tapping at his iPhone).

After shooting hoops a few of the members wanted to play cribbage.  I'm not familiar with that game, so I watched part of The Longest Ride with some of the other members. Found it a rather good, if somewhat predictable, movie.  But mostly good.  What can I say: I'm a natural born romantic!


I slept well last night - much better than I was expecting to. As best I could tell, none of the men in the cabin snored, although Madi tells me that the women's cabin was loud enough for her to sleep with her earphones in!

Breakfast was what Simon Pegg might have called a "full English breakfast with extra breakfast", followed by some cleaning up and packing away of bedding and the like.  One thing I've noticed is that a side effect of being at a camp designed for children is that the furniture is meant to be indestructible.  This means a lot of solid plastic - which is surprising hard on the backside after a while!

After the rain overnight the sun came out and the place looked as healthy as ever.  It'd be gorgeous country in autumn when the light paints everything golden.

There was a bit more coursework, followed by preparing a navigation data sheet for a practice navigation exercise just before lunch.  Interestingly, we found that we could navigate to stations a long way apart quite accurately, but where they were close together we tended to be a long way off.  My guess is that where they were close there was a stronger temptation to look for them with our eyes rather than relying on the carefully-plotted compass bearings.

Lunch was the same as yesterday - burger patties, sausages, lettuce and tomato.  Strong, filling food for a lot of exertion.  After lunch it was time for the actual assessment.

The assessment was fairly strict this time: it started with an hour long exam on navigational theory (map reading, calculating bearings and backbearings, converting magnetic and grid bearings and and a deal more beside.  I got it done, but I had to work for it.  Only if you passed that exam could you continue to the practical examination.  Out of my group of five, two didn't pass the theory exam, and so the three of us (me, Madi and a member from Yackandandah) headed off with about two hours to reach at least six of eight stations.  I can tell you we had to work hard to get them.  The terrain was largely without paths through the timber and over downed trees. While we didn't get lost, it was no small effort to get to each station.  In the event, we managed to get six before time ran out and we turned back for the camp.

After a bit of a debrief it was confirmed that a number of people, including Ross, Madi and me, had passed.  I'm pretty proud of that - kind of feel like it was something I had to work to get!

We got on the road for Tatura.  Things went a bit awry when someone, who shall remain nameless, pulled up at a servo and inadvertently put 19 litres of petrol in the diesel tank (coughcoughguiltycoughcoughcough), resulting in a need for the vehicle to be towed back to the unit.  Rather annoying to finish a successful weekend on a note like that.

Back to work tomorrow.  Time to sleep now.  Hope you're all doing well and had and enjoying your weekend as much as much as I have!

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