For the final time of the trip, my alarm rang rudely early and I forced myself to get out of bed and through the shower. I had had very little sleep from the previous night, but there were still things that needed to be done. I made my way downstairs to find Emma, my fellow co-director, lying on the couch in the side room with her leg up in an ankle brace she had managed to source from a first aid kit lying around. Apparently she had made a misstep on the way back to the hostel during the night and it was now sore and swelling. This brought the casualty count of the trip to six, five of which were from the Orientation committee.
Having completed the final major component of the trip, the morning was mostly spent watching over as people packed up their belongings and left them in the doorway to the hostel. There were many tired faces, other than myself and Emma, the only people awake were those who had gone to bed straight away after the previous night’s ceilidh. As such, the first breakfast serving at half past seven was quiet and empty. I found myself some breakfast early to get everything organised for our departure. At first, Pedro brought all of the leftover foods down from the supplies room into the side room, and arranged everything we needed into several boxes and crates. A little later on, I collected a few returning scholars who weren’t looking busy and we hauled those boxes out of the side room and to the front of the hostel.
Slowly, more and more people were waking up, breakfasting and congregating in the grassy area between the hostel and the lake. People were depositing their linens in a big pile in the bay window by the reception. We collected the fruits and sandwiches for the day’s lunch from the hostel reception and by half past nine, assembled everybody out the front of the hostel for some final announcements. We went through a number of items from the lost and found: a few jackets, some rock climbing shoes, and some water bottles. There was time for Annalise to arrange one big group photo with her wide angle lens in front of the hostel, before everyone collected their bags and we all headed out to the coaches.
Once aboard we had to call the roll again. As by now, some people had lost or forgotten their name tags, some got back on the same busses they had come up on, and had to switch over. But everyone was there on time, and we didn’t have to wait for any stragglers. Before long, our coaches were driving us away from the Lake District and back down the M6. There were many tired souls on board, and most people nodded off back to sleep, including Liangliang, who was sat next to me. So I instead was messaging people seated elsewhere on both of the busses until the first services stop.
We stopped at Knutsford Services for the busses to refuel. Most people went inside to the services, but Alex had to sit Emma down on a chair outside and treat her ankle a bit. There were still many hungry and tired souls, and so most people got food and had to be slowly marshalled back towards the busses. There were roadworks down parts of the M6 that slowed us down a little, but it wasn’t too long until the next services stop. I was sat next to Marina for most of the way, which lead to some rather amusing conversations. Most of the rest of the group were starting to wake up too, and by the lunch stop at Norton Canes, everyone was buzzing again.
We parked the bus and unloaded the sandwiches, but many people opted for food from the services, which meant that we had plenty of leftovers. People sat around on the picnic tables for a while, but many of them were socially exhausted. Many people were finding friendship groups and the amount of general mingling was diminishing.
Finally, it was time for the last roll call of the trip and the final leg back into Cambridge. We parked at the coach parks on Queens’ Road, and everyone took their bags and headed back to their respective accommodations. A few people stayed back to help carry some crates of supplies back to the GCSR. Rebecca and Miriam took the leftover food to a homeless shelter in Cambridge, and Emma went off to the hospital to get scans for her ankle. Jacqueline walked the Churchill scholars back to Churchill, so I was left with three people’s bags and a bunch of stuff.
We left the supplies in a corner of the GCSR to be sorted when we weren’t so tired, and I collected my bike and rode the first two bags back home. When I returned, Jacqueline had also returned from Churchill and was chatting to Kevin, who hadn’t come to Ambleside with us. All I could really do was fall backwards into the large bean bag, completely exhausted. Jacqueline and I went across to Darwin to grab some dinner, as neither of us wanted to cook. Finally, we could get together the final two bags and ride home properly. Emma greeted us there shortly afterwards and informed us that her ankle was fortunately not broken. The evening was spent answering Facebook friend requests from the new scholars, before heading to bed at the pleasant time of half past eight.