Bear-ly a Notion: Survivor Lad

It was an early August Saturday morning when myself, CherrySue and a number of other (mainly movie) writers/bloggers were sat on a bus on the way to the wonderful Kippure Estate, when we realised  – we’re probably going to die.

We were on our way to a survival crash course after watching Captain Fantastic (Review HERE) and how his family lived ‘off the grid’. The entire trip down to Wicklow was beautiful – hills and mountains covered in trees coming to a clearing of just a river and old stacked-stone walls – it was just a shame the drive was our first challenge. With speeds quicker than a jet fighter and getting the same amount of air we arrived – shaken and stirred.

TASK 1: ABSEILING + ROCK CLIMBING

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So our first lesson was abseiling – now I’ve done rock abseiling before and had a great time, but this was a slow walking down an 11 metre flat wall. This totally freaked me out, I’m used to jumping off to get down but we were specifically told walk, so I couldn’t do it and legged it back down. One person who didn’t was the wonderful PR Roisin, who did it like it was nothing.

The rock climbing was next, another 11 metre wall but I jumped at this, only to be stopped just above halfway because the holds were too narrow to put my boots toe onto. But of course our leader for the day nailed it AGAIN! (Sensing a pattern here?)

TASK 2: PURIFYING WATER + (TWISTED) FIRE STARTING (NOW WITH LESS EXCUSES!!)

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Our next lesson was how to purify water – now this was to be done with literally nothing but a plastic bottle and whatever we could find.

We started off by tossing moss in the bottle, then rocks/sand, then charcoal from a burned out fire, then more moss – this made our very crude filter. We were then to let the water drip through the filter and into a container, before boiling it in a fire.

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To start a fire we were given a block of magnesium and a steel blade to spark onto a cotton ball. Lucky for team DiehardCherry we got the knackered one, resulting in me destroying my knuckles and their table before we FINALLY got them to light; then we had to do it for real.

After grouping up with a number of other bloggers we were tasked with getting a fire pit going and to cook lunch over it – my specialty. After the team dispersed to collect firewood and kindling I was left to start the fire, cursing under my breath and sighing until I got it going.

TASK 3: COOKING AND BUILDING  A SHELTER

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After eventually getting the fire good and ready, we moved on to collecting the food – which the DASTARDLY team 2 had already ransacked. We settled on chicken, bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes in chili tomato sauce sided with sweet potato chips.

While the lads were off getting wood in the forest (perverts), CherrySue was preparing the food and myself and Super PR Roisin were trying to cook the food in between the constant gassing by the fire. Say what you will about our methods, but the food was PERFECT and tasted great.

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Continuing in the trend of things with AWFUL pictures I needed to be in, we were tasked with building our own lean-to shelter.  Team DiehardCherry grouped up with Team Minnie Melange and we set about throwing whatever the hell stood together. After a good 20 minutes of lifting and arranging huge branches and tossing giant leaves over the back, we were told to tear it down and start again.

Obviously distraught (read – lazy), we tore everything down and rebuilt, this time with a lot more leaves to cover the half-arsedness. I must admit, the second time around we did it much better AND we could fit inside it! It was decided that our shelter looked best and we took the header photo for this post in front of it (SUCK IT TEAM 2!!).

TASK 4 – BUTCHERING A RABBIT AND ARCHERY

Our last real lesson was how to skin and butcher a rabbit. I didn’t get any pictures (probably for the best), but the method was basically remove the head and ‘de-glove’ the rabbit. Unfortunately the rabbit had been hit with a shotgun so we couldn’t eat the meat, but it was cooked to show how easy it is to put all of these skills together and sort a meal out.

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After a quick taste of our filtered water (it was yellow and tasted a tiny bit smokey, but otherwise it was perfectly fine), we were brought to our surprise reward – archery!

I LOVE archery – we all got a go of 4 arrows to shoot for a bit of fun (I got one of the best scores, obviously). That is, until our own Les Stroud survival master decided to make it interesting – the person who pops the balloon has the rest of the group buy their drinks back in town. The competition tightened up something fierce, with most people hitting an 8; until a movie writer by the name of Morgan walks up and NAILS it, directly down the bull, first shot.

I was RAGING.

Kippure Estate is a really gorgeous spot, and the drive down is beautiful (if you get a driver who doesn’t try to kill you). We had a really great time and their 1 day survival crash course was more than worth an early morning. I highly recommend checking it out – they do weddings, team building, – all that sort of thing.

Thank you to Super PR Roisin Furlong for inviting myself and CherrySue!!

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