I have returned relative unscathed from my weekend in The Great Outdoors. Things I've learned this weekend:
Survival Skill #1: When your packing list demands waterproof trousers, thick wool socks, torches with spare batteries and other seldom-used items, it is best to pack the night before. Trying to throw your case together at 430pm when you're due to meet someone at the train station at 5 is unwise.
Survival Skill #2: If you're speaking to someone with a thick accent, don't respond to their sentences until you've verified you actually understood them.
Survival Skill #3: Sat nav is a necessity in the UK. But turn the volume down or the voice will freak you out when you've been on the motorway for awhile in silence, and you'll come perilously close to swerving into the guardrail when you flinch in surprise.
Survival Skill #4: If the hotel is located at the top of a steep hill with a large flight of stairs at the end, don't pack a duffel bag. And when you're walking up the hill, don't cross the strap across your neck.
Survival Skill #5: If you're staying at a youth hostel with questionable food choices to begin with, you'd best get in line early or you'll be eating slop.
Survival Skill #6: I am too damn old to sleep in a room with five other people. Especially in bunk beds.
Survival Skill #7: Most women don't like to think they snore. Even if they say they're sorry if they snored, they don't want to you to respond, "No worries. It wasn't that loud."
Survival Skill #8: If you want the breakfast you ordered from the not-particularly-well-equipped youth hostel kitchen, you'd best get there early. People lie if they think what you ordered looks better than what they did. You'll end up without porridge.
Survival Skill #9: Ask if you need to bring anything with you BEFORE you walk down the flight of stairs and steep hill to the bus.
Survival Skill #10: When they say the weather in the Peak District can be "less than hospitable" in January, believe them.
Survival Skill #11: When you're working on a group problem solving task, watch the nice young man who's observing because he will make facial expressions that indicate when you're hot or cold to the solution. Plus, if he's kind of foxy it makes standing around in the squally downpours more fun.
Survival Skill #12: Mud is sticky. And slippery.
Survival Skill #13: Check BOTH directions before peeing in the woods.
Survival Skill #14: If making a plaster of paris mask of a colleague's face, you have to rub vaseline all over their face and cover their eyes in cling film to keep it from sticking.
There are many more lessons learned, but time is short and there are case studies calling. The important thing is I won't have to do this again.
I'll be kind of absent until Sunday, but will check in as time allows. Good weeks to you all.