Orientation

Orientation Day 1: Travel to Ambleside and LfP Workshops

Despite a late night at the Old Meets New Pub Night, it was to be an early start for the first day of the Orientation Trip to Ambleside in the Lake District. I was up at around six o’clock, and Emma and Jacqueline were not too far behind. I had a quick shower, grabbed some quick food and carefully strapped a crate of Orientation supplies to the back of my bike and rode out to the bus stop on Queen’s road. Emma kindly brought my bag with her.

I parked my bike at college and waited at the bus stop from about seven o’clock. I was the first one there, but more slowly came in dribs and drabs. By twenty to eight, almost everyone had shown up on time, exactly as I had emphasised on Induction Day. The busses arrived and we greeted the drivers, Bruce and Richard. We loaded everybody onto the busses and conducted our first roll call of the trip. All of the new scholars managed to arrive on time, we just had one straggling returning scholar.

The first segment of the bus journey took us to the Norton Canes services stop, about two hours from Cambridge. Here, we stopped for about twenty minutes for people to go inside and grab some coffee; there were still many weary looking, jet lagged faces on board. Our second stop was at Charnock Richards, north of Manchester on the M6, where we had lunch. Miriam had arranged for sandwiches and snacks that we had brought with us from Cambridge, and so we milled about eating and socialising with the new scholars.

The traffic up the M6 was mostly smooth all the way; we arrived into Ambleside at around half past two, giving us plenty of time to settle in before dinner. The busses dropped us off and we all congregated around in front of the hostel. Emma and I stood on the top steps of the hostel and welcomed all of the new scholars to the Lake District. Callie, Jake and Max had driven up in the car the previous night and had pre-checked everybody in and done some preliminary set-up. We directed all of the room leaders through to pick up their room keys, and in an orderly time, we all managed to make it in our rooms.

For the next few hours, people settled themselves into the hostel. A few crazy souls went and jumped of the pier into the freezing lake. Others went on a short tour around the town of Ambleside. Personally, I took the afternoon to get my bearings around the hostel, and alongside Emma, solving a lot of small problems or issues that the new scholars had asked.

Dinner was served in the hostel from six. We organised the line to get people with dietary requirements near the front, and I soon was sat down with a meal. However, a few bites in, Michelle came rushing over to me in a panicked state, informing me that one of the new scholars had fainted. I attended the scene; the stuffy room had been a little too much. I immediately contacted Alex, our resident doctor, who was a few minutes away in the town, and summoned him back to the hostel. She pulled up okay, but needed a few moments outside in the fresh air to recover. I could then finally return to my food.

The planned post-dinner activity was to be hosted by Learning for Purpose; a Gates council initiative which puts on workshops for people to develop personal and professional skills beyond their regular studies. The workshops were being hosted in the Ambleside Parish Centre, up in the town centre. The workshop facilitators, and a few of the committee and council members, had gone up in advance to set things up. I congregated the bulk of the new scholars and brought them up with me. When I arrived, those already there had done an incredible job of setting up, especially Jake and Rebecca.

There were five workshops hosted that night: Art with Emma, Listening with Miriam, Creative Writing with Mike, Meditation with Pedro and Improv with Callie. Everything seemingly under control, so I went down to the Improv workshop. Callie was an excellent tutor, we went through a number of games to get people reacting on their feet to the actions of everybody else. It was a lot of fun, and got us moving about the small space quite a lot.

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When I came back upstairs, I found Emma and her art workshop sprawled out all over the floor of the main hall. There were a whole host of excellent looking landscape drawings, with a few other interesting themes as well. Everyone looked super into it. For the next hour or so, people mingled about with a bit of food, drinks and music. After a while, they all headed back to the hostel, leaving us to clean up and put things into the car.

Once we returned to the hostel, Emma and I debriefed about what had happened that day, and made plans for the next. Finally, it was time for some quiet socialising in the common room quite late, until we all hit the sheets ready for the next few active days.

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