It had been recommended that we check in for this cycle ride the day before. Do the admin, check your bike in, attend a briefing etc etc.
Rather than get up very early I decided to go up the night before, stay at the Union Jack Club and go to this briefing. The Union Jack Club is at Waterloo, relatively cheap and very comfortable. I didn’t book in for breakfast as it was being provided at Wellington the morning of our departure.
My check at the Barracks was very quick. Rows of bikes hung on stands on the square……but not mine I hasten to add. I had stripped mine of everything I required ready to put on my ‘hire’ bike. So I was eager to find and inspect my steed.
First though the briefing.
Having checked in and with nothing else to do I went to the gym where the briefing was to be held. A typically stark and functional military area. I and another lady were the first ones there. We struck up a conversation. She was being sponsored by her company and knew nothing about the Grenadier Guards, Waterloo or any military history. This gave me plenty to talk about. She felt daunted by the whole adventure.
Time passed, the gym filled and the briefing was held with typically military aplomb.
Lt Col Patrick Holcroft ended the briefing with a discussion about the Colonel’s Fund and the casualties needing to be treated. Keeping it simple he let us watch a video of the Grenadiers in action and the work of the fund. Unbeknownst to us whilst the briefing was going on the entire Regimental Band had quietly entered at the rear of the gym, in full ceremonial uniform and on cue began playing as an accompaniment to the film. Talk about ‘Sensurround’, it was very stirring and quite a bit emotionally overwhelming. It took everyone in the gym by surprise. We rushed to get our iphones out to record the occasion.
Lastly, and on a point that Douglas Adams would have approved…
Major Steve Dehnel discussed all aspects of the 3 days, asking us to remain ‘fluid’! He said the accommodation was arranged to save costs and that it would get better on each of the nights. The first was an Army barracks in Folkestone. No problem for most of us but I could feel a sign of concern from the ladies & civilians amongst us. He said ‘not to worry, bed linen would be provided’
Always travel the galaxy with your own towel….
Photo with thanks to Prime Jyothi on flickr, available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/primejyothi/4636554756/