After these past few days of driving around, all I can say is that if The Proclaimers want to walk a thousand miles, then let them: it was tiring enough driving it!
I worked out this morning that to travel from NW London to Birmingham and back, followed by a trip to the West Country, to Blackpool, to Lancaster, to Capernwray, back to Blackpool and finally back to NW London all amounts to a staggering 947 miles!!!
Shame only the first bit to Birmingham was for work, otherwise I'd have a nice little sum there for buying some diving kit...
The reason for heading up to Capernwray was for Pygmie and I to complete our Advanced Open Water Diver course by doing the last three adventure dives: one choice and two mandatory (Dry Suit, Deep Dive and Underwater Navigation).
As always with the diving, I was nervous about getting everything right, being somewere new and all that malarkey, but not so much as to suffocate Pygmie with my noxious gasses whilst driving there ... for a change!
Unlike the chaos at the swimming pool last week, things were definitely more organised at Capernwray*. The main problem I found was that I just couldn't keep up with the pace: everyone else seemed to know what to do, where to go and when to be some place and I found myself floundering.
After the second dive, a comment about people getting to the dive site late was made, which narked me considering it was our first time there, are still in the early days of our training and no attempt was made to see how we were getting on.
Anyhoo, the dives were ... well ... interesting.
The first dive of the day was the Deep Dive and our assigned instructor handed us over to someone else as she didn't want to take ten people down on a deep dive as the first dive of the day. This actually went in our favour as it meant we had two instructors taking us down and giving us their full attention. I love personalised training!!
Descending to the depths, Pygmie and I succeeded in keeping a slow and steady pace to the bottom and landing without stirring up too much silt. Once there, we repeated an exercise we had done on the surface, compared colours and attempted to crack open an egg, which was impossible without a knife**.
Once we had performed the exercises, we went for a little swim before having to surface earlier than expected as one of the instructor's regulators went into free-flow, so we reviewed what we did. The only observation was that on our descent we drifted apart and, with the visibility not being particularly high, it is important to stay close. Then came the compliment.
Before descending, we had told the instructors that we had not done the dry suit adventure dive yet, only the orientation, but because the deep dive has to be the first dive then we were going to be doing it totally new. This made them wary so they kept an eye on us expecting us to have problems with buoyancy, but we seemed to have it sussed which I think came as much of a relief to them as it did to us!
The remaining two dives, Underwater Navigation and Dry Suit were not quite as smooth as the first dive and I ended up experiencing hypothermia when we were just sat at the bottom waiting for the instructors to take us to do our exercises: four t-shirts really wasn't enough.
Despite being all signed off now, Pygmie and I have decided to go to Chepstow in a couple of weeks so that we can practice our navigation and, if we can get a suitable suit, practice our dry suit hovering skills: something I really screwed up as I wasn't weighted properly.
I had to admit afterwards that the day didn't leave me as chilled out as the diving in the Red Sea had done ... perhaps I need to go back there sometime soon :-D
Once we got back to Blackpool, we freshened up and fourteen of us went out for the night, having a rather nice meal at Ghurka's restaurant before moving on to a club/pub crawl until the very early hours: well, it was my birthday - just don't ask me how old I am now!!
The next time I head up north, I will have to make more of an effort to go and see my cousin's band performing: I felt bad for not being able to see them this time as we had to study for the diving, but I think he understood.
If you ever get the chance, go see The Corsairs performing and cheer the guys on :-D
* That said, the dis-organisation reared its head when our instructor said she was expecting us to be there on the Sunday, not the Saturday, so they ended up shifting all the courses around to fit us in :$
** Sounds crazy, but think of the physics. At 20 metres there is 3 times the pressure on the surface of the egg. The egg doesn't crack as the shape is ideal for even pressure all round and it contains fluid which is incompressible.