Friday was a ‘marking day’ for me, but the marking is neatly piled and untouched. Instead had a Friday of mixtures, the random things of life. Moments of calm; sipping coffee in tranquil green gardens. Moments of patience; driving behind tractors for hundreds of miles. And moments of frenzy; running up a mountain with a full rucksack (time was tight to drop gear off at the remote cottage then run back down to meet the students).

Later that evening I got to relax once again as the cloud dropped on the mountain and surrounded the cottage in glistening moisture on every blade of grass and fern. We warmed ourselves around the fire as the students spent a still night lower down the in a valley.


Saturday began in a hurry. The lovely Sharon and I wolfed down bowl fulls of muesli and ran down from the mountain side to get to the van and drive round to meet the students waking up (the cottage is far from any drivable road or lane). We walked with the group as they climbed Bernagh in changeable weather. The clouds cleared in time to see how far they had come and the drop to their campsite. This group has been one of the fittest and funniest I have walked with in years. Even the lovely Sharon was impressed with the pace (she is a fast walker who usually drives groups to their maximum).

We left them to continue on the Brandy pad and sped round to the cottage to walk in from the opposite direction. When I say sped, I mean we stopped at Mauds and had a coffee. This is where I saw:


My risk assessment needs updating.

Hours later we were content that the group were well fed and watered for the summer evening. They had pushed themselves hard and we rewarded them by scaring the wits out of them with stories of wild hungry pumas. We returned to the cottage having picked up a another leader for the evening. We sipped coffee as the mountain dropped beneath us to the sea. Inside the cottage the lovely Sharon had volunteered to make dinner. Within the dark walls she worked by head torch and gas light. We had what I can only describe as a restaurant meal. Fried mange tout, baby sweetcorn and sweet onions, combined with cured bacon and poached eggs with a mustard and balsamic vinegar dressing. This is what I call roughing it.

Being only one valley over from the puma sightings we should have been security conscious. Instead we accidentally left the front door and the main room door wide open. It was a very warm evening and we simply forgot. We lived, maybe it was the mustard breath or the eggs?

Sunday was a much more gentler day. The group had to prove that they could self manage as we strategically checked them later at their checkpoints later in the morning. We had time to actually eat breakfast and relax. This was when a friend let me borrow his digital SLR for 20 minutes after he showed me the macro feature. He now has several hundred pictures of bumble bees, sorry mate.