Thursday, August 14, 2008

Polly On Snowboarding

And so Polly disappeared for another couple of weeks! What a cheek; I mean how dare she? Well, on that note I must offer my heartfelt apologies for my sudden absence; though I am sure you will forgive me when I tell you that I have spent the last week on a working holiday in the Austrian sun - yes SUN! with the 1st Tullamore Scout Troup.

Anyone who is reading this from the Emerald Isle will know exactly what I mean by my reference to sun. The weather here has been abysmal, it seems that we took the good weather with us; leaving our home country bathed in an absolute deluge. The Scout Jamboree which took place in Punchestown, Co Kildare should have been an enjoyable get together with Scouts from around Ireland and the rest of the world.

Unfortunately it was turned into a veritable mud bath; with photo's of Dutch Scouts covered from head to toe in muck appearing on the front page of our national newspapers. Despite the downpour and accompanying gunge it appears that as usual our member's made the best of things and enjoyed themselves all the same...

The annual Tullamore Show, which was due last Sunday 10th August was cancelled at the last minute; for the second year in a row. Despite taking precautions galore; ie miles of metal tracking which wasn't able to compensate for the adverse conditions, the organisers were left with what can only be considered a massive headache. Rumour now has it that the show will be cancelled indefinately.

It is little wonder then that while we were enjoying ourselves in the sun there was just a little tinge of sadness/guilt associated with our escape from the weather! Admittedly it wasn't sunshine all the time; on Thursday night a storm blew in over the Alps. It brought lightening and winds of a type which we Irish are just not used to. Despite this it was warmer than it would have been at home in similar conditions!

Our trip to the Salzburg Zoo and the Hellbrunn Park the next day were a little wetter than anticipated. It's ironic that the Scout Motto is "Be Prepared!" and only one of our party (mentioning no names!) had the foresight to take their raincoat with them. The previous days' trip to the city of Salzburg had seen a certain member of our party praying for some nice Irish rain. The moral of that story is "be careful what you wish for..."

Saturday saw us rise at 5.30am; packed lunches and day bags packed up the night before. Mine was packed to the gunnels with all manner of sun cream; it was my responsibility to protect ALL Scouts and Scouter's from the ravages of the sun! It's a shame then, that the same c!@&$? weather conditions prevented the outing from going ahead quite as planned.

This is where plan B came into being; we visited the world famous Salt mines instead! We had to dress up in funny clothes; boy was it cold down there, so we were grateful for the extra layer. We even travelled internationally as the mines pass under the boarder into Germany avoiding passport control!

One young member of the group had denounced the tour of the Salt mines as C*@P! He soon changed his mind; announcing it to be one of the Best Day's of His Life! The whole experience was fun; involving four interesting and amusing videos about the history of the mine, a tour guide with a sense of humour, two train rides and two very long wooden slides descending into the depths of the mine.

Afterwards we were presented with a container of salt-candy and the opportunity to purchase photos of ourselves! Best of all? The sun came out to warm us all up again as we demolished the picnic made the night before! Would I recommend it? Definitely!

Sunday saw us walking into the nearby town of Mattsee where the boys took part in a Crazy Golf Tournament. The cost of entry was just two euro's with a prize fund consisted of €26.00 to be shared by the best team. Meanwhile the female leader's of the group enjoyed a decent mug of coffee in the sun; with some handmade chocolate covered dried fruits which were gorgeous!

Once again the weather was 'up' so it was a good job that nearby there was an area for us to enjoy a cool refreshing splash in the ake. For a reasonable entry fee there are changing facilities, a cafe, life guards, a water slide and a high board which was well utilised by the boys. With a little encouragement; ie a certain leader (who had not ventured as far as the lowest of boards in twenty years) agreed to dive in, resulting in even the most timid of scouts venturing up onto the diving board. It took a while but eventually they all plunged into the water; time and time again!

Finally, on Monday we went snowboarding; this time the weather was perfect, resulting in another 5.30am alarm call. The boys all thought Polly mad as she insisted on 'buttering up' for the snow. It was especially persuading them to coat their arms; as well as their faces. Apparently they thought me quite mad; the very idea of snowboarding on the glacier in their shirt sleeves!? But Polly was most insistent!

Despite this one or two were glowing in the dark that evening! Several; those who'd forgotten their sunglasses came down from the slopes with pink eyes, resulting in some very interesting comparisons with Gene Simmons of the Seventies glam rock band Kiss!Imagine what they'd have been like without my tender mercies?

Needless to say, all good things must come to an end. Our final night saw us celebrating the good times with a camp-fire where the boys and leader's entertained everyone with a medley of acts including a parody about the leaders; which caught our idiosyncrasies down to a T. We sang our hearts out, and laughed until we cried, especially as the Von Trapp sister's performed a shortened version of The Sound of Music!

And then it was time for bed; with a long day ahead of us...


Polly Pierce
Maker of Beautifully Crafted Hand-made Greeting Cards and Wedding Stationary

*It is now a week later and I am only just beginning to feel like myself. My energy levels have been severely depleted and it takes me a little longer than most folk to catch up!

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