For the first time in around eight years, I’ve had the luxury of a school holiday. I recently started a job as a teaching assistant, and I’ve been waiting to enjoy one of the many benefits of this line of work.
To celebrate my first chunk of free time, I decided to stalk Sam to Portland. It would be a good chance to go on a little adventure, try and make a film, and crash my new drone.
The results of this can be seen here.
The good thing about setting my targets low was that I actually reached them for once!
As Sam has a second job, our little climbing trip would occur right in the middle of the Easter holidays. It was only a short weekend away, but after a fairly long time of not going on adventures, it was probably a good idea to ease into it.
The weekend arrived and we prepared ourselves for an early departure. So we naturally met up around mid-day, did nothing, went to Asda to buy a weeks worth of junk food needed for a two day trip, then set off at around three.
Not long into the drive we realised the downside to leaving at 3 on Easter Friday was that everyone else in the country was doing the same thing. It was around this point we chose to sit in traffic for about two hours. You might think this an absolute nightmare, but sitting in Sams big red van listening to a mixtape from the sixties and seventies is almost cool. Everything from Tiny Dancer to Sweet Home Alabama. Two songs you really need to sing on a miserable British motorway
The driving wasn’t too bad, but when a two and a half hour journey ends you tend not to be too keen to run off climbing. Especially if the alternative is to sit in your van eating hotdogs. Luckily we had learnt lessons from our previous trips, and this time I didn’t smother my dinner in Colemans English Mustard.
After polishing off our dinner, we had about three cups of tea, then decided it would be fun for Sam to go and do some night climbing while I tried flying my drone, that I didn’t know how to fly, in the dark.
I’ll start with the positive note that we made it the fairly long walk through boulders and bushes in the dark without either of us dying. Which is where my good luck ends.
I threw down a big floodlight so Sam could see, but mostly so I could film, then went to work setting up a DSLR so I had two angles to make a video out of. Now the fun bit. With the DSLR up and running, I started the drone up and sent it up into the night sky. For a time all seemed good. Sam was climbing, the drone was flying, and I wasn’t fearful of a Colemans English Mustard poo.
Things all went well right up to the point the drone started edging closer to the boulder Sam was on. Instead of pulling back away from the boulder, I engaged the wrong thumb and slammed the thing into the floor. The thing about Portland is the floor is mostly jagged rocks, so senior drone quickly flipped upside down and one of the blades broke. I was Super bummed
Fortunately I had spare blades and the rest of the night went a little smoother.
The Morning arrived and Sam woke up ridiculously early like he always does. The advantage to Sam being a morning person is he usually doesn’t mind making tea and breakfast. The disadvantage to me being the complete opposite of a morning person, is if I don’t have some adequate naps I can barely eat in the mornings. But this is where all of Sam’s hard work pays off as he got to eat like 6 bacon sandwiches. I’m such a good friend.
With the arduous task of breakfast completed, we had another three cups of tea, then made our way back to the boulder field for more climbing and drone shenanigans.
The morning was far more successful, it took me over a minute to crash it this time. Luckily I didn’t break any blades this time. I did find out that Sam’s shocked reactions weren’t because he was worried about the drone, but rather he was worried about the drone flying into him and gashing his head off. How very selfish.
Persistence paid off. That was the last time we crashed the drone, and we got some incredible shots! Felling confident that I had everything I needed, we went for a little wonder, then headed back to the van for lunch.
I left the cameras behind for the afternoon, which meant Sam could focus on one of his projects without fear of drone death. I’m not much of a climber, so I spent most of the afternoon stalking Sam like a groupie. This did give me a chance to try and carry the two boulder pads and gear Sam had been carrying all morning while I carried cameras. It was around this time I started feeling bad as it turns out they were super heavy and completely threw you off balance. But I felt much better once I stopped worrying about it.
Sam couldn’t quite manage to top out his project, but after chatting to him during the afternoon, it became pretty clear that that’s the whole point of a project. It’s something that keeps you coming back for more, it’s something that drives you insane, It’s something that’s worth every bit of effort you put into it.
We went back to the van and ate some more hotdogs, then went home reflecting on an awesome return to our adventuring ways, and planning the next trip.